WSU provides precise irrigation recommendations via online program

Photo: Reviewing irrigation data in the orchard.
Troy Peters, WSU extension irrigation specialist, left, checks the irrigation scheduler on his phone in a cherry orchard with Sean Hill, AgWeatherNet Web developer, and Gerrit Hoogenboom, director of AgWeatherNet. Click on image to download high resolution version.

PROSSER, Wash. – With the release of Irrigation Scheduler Mobile, irrigation just got easier for Washington homeowners and agricultural producers. An online tool developed by researchers at Washington State University, Irrigation Scheduler Mobile combines information about soil, crop type and weather to calculate the optimal amount of water to use.

Irrigation Scheduler Mobile is an interactive website optimized for smart phones and other mobile devices, although it works equally well on desktop computers. The system uses data from AgWeatherNet, WSU’s network of nearly 140 weather stations across the state of Washington that collects data on local precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine and wind speed.

Troy Peters, WSU Extension irrigation specialist, partnered with AgWeatherNet director Gerrit Hoogenboom and AgWeatherNet Web developer Sean Hill to create the system.

Those wishing to use the irrigation scheduler can create a free account here, select a nearby weather station and enter their soil type and crop type (including, for property owners and golf courses, grass or turf). The system displays any water deficit, including color-coded warnings when low moisture levels may damage plants. System users can update their account with the amount of water that they’ve applied to the lawn or crop.

Screen Shot
iPhone screenshot of Irrigation Scheduler Mobile’s Daily Budget Table screen includes color-coded warnings as moisture level drops. Click on image to download high resolution version.

By sticking to system recommendations, users can walk the fine line of saving water while optimizing crop yields.

That’s not to say that Irrigation Scheduler Mobile is a one-trick pony. For those who want to dig deeper into the mysteries of irrigation and crop management, it also calculates daily crop water use, cumulative water use, crop coefficients and root zone depth over time, the estimated amount of water lost to deep percolation, and the degree of water stress and estimated yield loss due to water stress.

Hoogenboom said Irrigation Scheduler Mobile is just one of several enhancements to the functionality of AgWeatherNet.

“In the past, AgWeatherNet’s emphasis has been on providing current and historical weather data,” he said. “Now the goal is to add more support tools.” Irrigation Scheduler Mobile is the latest addition, after the Cold Hardiness Monitor for the viticulture industry and the DAS pest and disease management program.

A free online demonstration of the system will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29. Those wishing to attend the webinar can go here and log in as a guest. Participation is limited to the first 100 to log in.

A broadband connection and a Flash-enabled browser are required. To test your connection in advance, go here.