Water sensors with cellular system eliminate tail water drainage in alfalfa irrigation
California Agriculture 65(4):202-207. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v065n04p202.
Alfalfa is the largest consumer of water among all crops in California. It is generally flood-irrigated, so any system that decreases runoff can improve irrigation efficiency and conserve water. To more accurately manage the water flow at the tail (bottom) end of the field in surface-irrigated alfalfa crops, we developed a system that consists of wetting-front sensors, a cellular communication system and a water advance model. This system detects the wetting front, determines its advance rate and generates a cell-phone alert to the irrigator when the water supply needs to be cut off, so that tail water drainage is minimized. To test its feasibility, we conducted field tests during the 2008 and 2009 alfalfa growing seasons. The field experiments successfully validated the methodology, producing zero tail water drainage.
R. Saha is Assistant Engineer, MBK Engineers, Sacramento; N.S. Raghuwanshi is Professor, Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India; S.K. Upadhyaya is Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, UC Davis; W.W. Wallender is Professor, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, UC Davis; D.C. Slaughter is Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, UC Davis.