How Irrigation Scheduler Works

The analytical operations of Irrigation Scheduler are based on the water budget method. In its simplest form, this method adds precipitation and subtracts soil evaporation and crop transpiration to compute the daily available water in the soil.

The budgeted available water fluctuates between the field capacity value that is determined from the root zone, an intermediate value marking the beginning of stress, and a lower value called the maximum deficit.

When the available water suppresses the threshold, irrigation is scheduled to replenish the available water to its field capacity value. For each crop, there are three scheduling frequencies (low, mid, and high) to cover the range of water application methods and equipment.

While the water budget method is the analytical core of the tool, the irrigation schedule is also defined by sophisticated analyses of plant growth and meteorological data. A crop development model is used to adjust the root zone throughout the season. The root zone determines the maximum available water in the soil.

The crop development model takes into account the prevailing weather conditions and the time of year. An "effective" precipitation is calculated based on the amount of moisture entering the soil. For example, a significant amount of precipitation may reach the soil surface, but only a fraction replenishes the available water in the soil. Finally, evapotranspiration is calculated based on the crop stage, soil moisture, and prevailing weather conditions. The incorporation of weather "feedbacks" in the inputs result in more realistic estimates of the water added and lost from the soil water budget.

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(814) 357-8490
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(814) 357-8499 (fax)