Numerous tools have been developed with the aim of improving irrigation scheduling. Some methods involve using soil moisture sensors and irrigating based on soil moisture thresholds. Others may be based on evapotranspiration models. More novel techniques include irrigating based on the water status within the target crop. However, growers have been reluctant to adopt many of these irrigation scheduling methods because they may be too cumbersome to use, require specialized equipment, or are perceived as too risky compared to traditional methods. Recently, smartphone applications have been developed that schedule irrigation based on crop coefficients and real-time weather data. Called the SmartIrrigation™ application (smartirrigationapps.org), these tools have the potential to aid farmers in conserving water and nutrients, while maintaining crop yields. These applications were developed by the University of Florida and include such crops as citrus (Citrus spp.), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), turfgrass, blueberries (Vaccinium darrowii), and several vegetables. These applications can be downloaded for free by the public and utilize real-time data from nearby weather stations in Georgia and Florida. To determine the efficacy of the new SmartIrrigation™ applications for watermelons and tomatoes, trials were conducted over 2 years in southern Georgia, USA.
Part of the book: Irrigation in Agroecosystems