The FIST project began during the spring of 2012 and is partnership between the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District, the University of Georgia, the USDA-NRCS, USDA-ARS, IBM, and several participating farmers. During the spring and early summer of 2012, the UGA SSA was deployed in eight of ten demonstration fields with a minimum of ten sensor nodes per field. Field size averaged 80 ha. The eight instrumented fields were planted to cotton or peanut. Soil moisture data were collected hourly by the University of Georgia Smart Sensor Array (UGA SSA) for the entire growing season and streamed to a web server where they were displayed. All ten center pivot irrigation systems in the demonstration fields were equipped with VRI controls. Full precision irrigation will be implemented during the 2013 growing season using the paradigm described above and illustrated in Figure 1.
A polished web-based user interface for FIST will be operational by the end of 2012. It will be tested extensively over the winter with data from the 2012 growing season. The web-based user interface will use the IrrigatorPro suite of models to develop irrigation scheduling recommendations from UGA SSA soil water tension data. Figure 2 shows an example of the irrigation scheduling screen. All ten center pivot irrigation systems in the demonstration fields were equipped with VRI controls in early 2012. During the 2012 growing season the VRI controls were used only to turn the sprinklers off when passing over non-cropped areas in the fields (drainage ditches, wet areas, wildlife corridors, etc.) Full precision irrigation will be implemented during the 2013 growing season.
The following are links to popular and technical press articles about this project:
- Can Soil Sensors Save Georgia Waterways from Drought? – Scientific American
- Crop Data Gives Drought-Stricken Farmers a Leg Up on Getting by With Less – The Guardian
- Sensing Soil to Improve Watering – Georgia Public Broadcasting
- Saving a River, One Farm at a Time – National Geographic
- New Technology Reduces Agricultural Water Consumption – Forbes
- Irrigation Scheduling Tools Seen as a Key to Conserving Water in Southwest Georgia