Creating maps of plant available water with microwave radiometer technology to inform precision irrigation management

Project Details

Status: Active
Investment: $420,658
Commodity: Irrigation
Organization: Lethbridge College
Investigator: Lethbridge College Research

Increasing on-farm water use efficiency (WUE) through precision irrigation is an important step in realizing the expansion of irrigated area in Southern Alberta.

Why is this research important for Alberta ag?

High water use efficiency (WUE) is crucial to irrigated agriculture in Southern Alberta. The region's river systems are closed to further withdrawals for agricultural use. Sustaining and increasing the diverse agricultural sector of Souther Alberta can only be achieved when each drop from a centre pivot is used to its fullest extent.

Increasing on-farm water use efficiency (WUE) through precision irrigation is an important step in realizing the expansion of irrigated area in Souther Alberta. Irrigation technology that allows producers to vary application depth in space during a single pivot revolution is becoming more widely available. For this technology to be used to its full potential, producers need to have access to maps of plant available water (PAW), which are not yet readily available.

What benefits can producers expect from this research?

Irrigated agriculture is an important economic driver in Souther Alberta. Compared to dryland agriculture, it enables the production of a larger selection of high-value crops in this semi-arid area. It also support a secondary industry of agri-food processing businesses.

This project will lower the barriers for producers to incorporate more complex precision agriculture technology in their operations.

How will these research findings reach producers on-farm?

The progress and findings of this project will be disseminated to irrigated producers at regiaonl conferences like the Irrigated Crop Production Update and the Annual Conference of the Alberta Irrigation District Association. Findings will also be shared via presentations, demonstrations, and published articles.

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