Farm Progress

Irrigation app helps farmers monitor water needs

New app allows farmer to use weather-based irrigation scheduling.

December 26, 2016

1 Min Read
KNOW BEFORE YOU IRRIGATE: Farmers can now turn on irrigation only when the crop and weather demand it. A new app from the University of Missouri Extension offers a way to monitor the water needs of an individual crop and apply a weather-based irrigation schedule.Photo courtesy of Scott Olson, Getty Images News

Farmers using irrigation will benefit from a new University of Missouri Extension web application.

MU Extension agronomist Gene Stevens says producers can register for the free Crop Water Use app.

The Crop Water Use (CWU) app estimates crop water use based on data from MU Extension weather stations across the state. Rainfall is estimated from the National Weather Service grid based on latitude and longitude. Crop evapotranspiration (the amount of water lost from plants and soil through evaporation) is calculated from weather data and predicted crop growth stage.

Required data in the setup include field location with longitude and latitude, using the center-most point of the field, which can be done manually or by using Google Maps.

Users will also enter:

• soil texture
• soil moisture at planting
• crop type
• planting date
• effective rooting depth
• irrigation method
• default irrigation rate
• percentage allowed depletion

Growth stages are predicted from crop heat units for corn, rice and cotton. Calendar days are used for soybeans.

A dryness index warns when soil water deficits are near the irrigation trigger for each field. A unique feature of the application is the projection of irrigation needs in each field for the coming week. This helps with spraying, cultivating and labor decisions.

In several watersheds in Missouri, the application will help growers qualify for financial incentives from the Natural Resources Conservation Service by adopting weather-based irrigation scheduling.

Subscribers receive a dedicated account and website link they can share with farm employees who control irrigation pumps. The application can be used on both mobile devices and desktop computers.

For more information, go to cropwater.org.

Source: University of Missouri Extension

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