Automation of on-farm irrigation: Horticultural case study
Agricontrol, Volume # 3 | Part# 1
Ooi, Su Ki; Cooley, Nicola; Mareels, Iven; Dunn, Greg; Dassanayake, Kithsiri; Saleem, Khusro
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
agriculture,environments,feedback control,automation,on-off control,wireless sensor networks
Our planet is facing a serious fresh water crisis and improved management of water resources presents significant research challenges. About 70% of the world's fresh water is consumed by agriculture and water application efficiencies are typically low. Improving the efficiency of water use in agriculture would deliver substantial economic and environmental benefits. To help address the issue of low water application efficiency, wireless sensor network technologies can be combined with automation to support the efficient production of food in a increasingly water limited future. This paper reports on results of combining these approaches to irrigate an apple orchard, where existing irrigation scheduling was predominately based on time consuming manual acquisition of soil moisture data. The system developed allowed fully automated on-farm irrigation based on real-time feedback control which increased economic water use efficiency by 73% compared with manual irrigation. It is suggested that the application of real-time feedback automation would dramatically improve economic efficiency for irrigators with low water efficiency. Whereas, for those irrigators already achieving high water efficiency, adoption of the technology provides substantial labour and time savings.
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