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Summary

Irrigation scheduling is an important technique that farmers can use to allow them to determine how much water their crop needs and when to apply it based on crop demand. The Ag Water Efficiency Team (AgWet) project was implemented in 2017 with two primary objectives: 1) train county Extension agents on advanced irrigation scheduling tools, and 2) have the trained agents transfer that knowledge to two growers in their county and provide the growers with scheduling tools to deploy in a center-pivot irrigated field. To this day, the project is still going strong and the adoption of soil moisture sensors has dramatically increased in South Georgia. One vendor has experienced a 536% increase in sales and another has seen a 370% increase. In addition, over 3,000 downloads of the Smart Irrigation cotton app have taken place.

Situation

Irrigation is very important to crop production, especially in years when in-season droughts reduce crop yields. Irrigation scheduling is a technique that can be used by farmers to allow them to determine how much water is needed and when to apply it to the field in order to meet the crop demand. Both soil moisture sensors and computer models are methods of irrigation scheduling that have been shown in research to perform well, but their adoption rate is rather low compared to other methods such as visible crop stress.

Response

In order to help increase soil moisture sensor adoption and computer model based scheduling methods with Georgia farmers, in 2017, the Ag Water Efficiency Team (AgWet) project was implemented with two primary objectives: 1) train county Extension agents on advanced irrigation scheduling tools, and 2) have the trained agents transfer that knowledge to two growers in their county and provide the growers with scheduling tools to deploy in a center-pivot irrigated field. Since 2017, Trellis WaterMark sensors have been deployed in over 15 counties throughout South Georgia in peanut and cotton crops and have been used in conjunction with two smartphone irrigation scheduling apps: SmartIrrigation App in cotton and the Irrigator Pro App in peanuts.

Impact

Adoption of innovative and efficient irrigation practices and technologies is difficult to quantify. Nevertheless, it is evident the AgWET project has impacted the agents and farmers as a number of agents have purchased additional soil moisture sensor systems with their own funding, and many agents also report farmers in their counties purchasing additional systems. While the AgWET project cannot claim all the credit, soil moisture sensor vendors operating in Georgia report a substantial uptick in system sales following the start of the AgWET project with one vendor experiencing a 536% increase in sales and another seeing a 370% increase. Similarly, other UGA Extension specialists and administrators have observed a notable increase in soil moisture sensors and scheduling Apps as well as an increase in people wanting to debate the merits of various sensors and Apps. In addition, currently nearly 3000 downloads of SmartIrrigation apps has taken place. For peanuts, we had a total of 4,555 acres in the program with 42 different growers and an estimated water savings of 93 cubic feet per second (CFS) flow rate as a result of using these irrigation scheduling technologies.

State Issue

Sustainability, Conservation, and the Environment

Details

  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: District/Department
  • County: Mitchell
  • Location: C.M. Stripling Irrigation Research Park, CamiIla
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources

Author

  • Cloud, Jackson Cale

Collaborator(s)

CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Barwick, Sydni Claire
  • Blankenship, Jason David
  • Cresswell, Brian L.
  • Crosson, David Luke
  • Edwards, R. (Phillip) Phillip
  • Grant, Joshua Adams
  • Hayes, Brian W
  • Kichler, Jeremy M
  • McAllister, Seth Thomas
  • Perry, Calvin D.
  • Porter, Wesley
  • Register, Jeremy Ashton
  • Starr, William E.
  • Torrance, Ty Nicholas
  • Vellidis, George

Non-CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District
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