Project: Internet-based tool for irrigation management integrating wireless in situ sensors with satellite remote sensing measurements

Spain is a water scarce region where the available fresh water resources are almost entirely exploited. However, sectors such as industries as well as tourism gain importance and demand a larger share of the total available freshwater resources. This leads to conflicts between the irrigated agricultural sector, which currently consumes around 80% of the water, and the other sectors. Trade-offs need to be made between for example the irrigation of golf courses (new users) and the citrus cultivation (established users). Often, the economic returns of tourism or industry are estimated higher than for agriculture and the latter is forced to reduce its water use._x000D__x000D_The irrigated agricultural should, however, be able to cultivate the same crops at lower water use while not reduce the yields or quality of the specific crops. Current irrigation practices often aim at providing the maximum amount of water that is available, thereby resulting in a low water use efficiency. Using water more efficiently requires irrigation water to be applied at the right time, at the right quantity and at the right place. Proper irrigation supplies to a field should match the water demand of a crop and not exceeding it._x000D__x000D_The water demand of an irrigated field is determined by its crop type and the status of the crop. The amount of water that needs to be applied depends on many environmental factors that include the soils, climate and plant status. In-situ sensors are widely used because they provide accurate real-time values with small time intervals. However, to physically measure all the soil parameters, climatic parameters, and vegetation parameters for a full understanding of the water use processes of high valued crops, would require too many different sensor types. Another limitation of classical field measurements is that it is very site-specific and spatial variations within fields are ignored. For farmers, the intensity and extent of instrumentation that will be necessary to optimize irrigation management, will be too expensive and impractical to manage._x000D__x000D_The potential of earth observation techniques (satellite remote sensing) to support irrigation management has been widely recognized and is based on more than twenty-five years of research. Remote sensing can provide spatially distributed and objective maps at a high level of detail and with high precision on crop water use and demands as well as agronomic parameters (e.g. leaf area development, nitrogen status) that are required in irrigation management. The weekly repetitive cycle of several types of satellite measurements makes it attractive for operational monitoring, even though daily scales are not available._x000D__x000D_In-situ measurement provide a high temporal resolution of measurements, but with low spatial variation, whereas remote sensing technologies provide information with lower temporal resolution (frequency) but with high spatial variation. Combining both techniques will overcome the shortcomings of the methods and provide accurate information for enhanced irrigation monitoring and scheduling. A system where the different types of in-situ and remote sensing measured parameters are easily visualized and interpreted, will give farmers, but also agronomic consultants and irrigation advisory and extension services, the tools to improve field water management practices. _x000D__x000D_THE CONSORTIUM _x000D__x000D_Combining their expertise in sensors and wireless network development, LabFerrer and Balmart, two Spanish companies, have developed a product called RFreeNET, a wireless sensor network that measures and monitors soil moisture and temperature at different depths in the soil via an internet program on which users can connect. This product is operational in Spain and is sold to irrigation communities. _x000D__x000D_WaterWatch and Basfood, two companies from the Netherlands, have created FieldLook, a commercial package that provides operational crop information based on weekly satellite measurements to farmers in The Netherlands and Belgium. This product focuses on providing agricultural parameters and fertilizer application management options. Maps are provided to farmers after subscribing and logging in to _x000D__x000D_Both products are proper tools for improving agricultural water management but none of them provide a comprehensive set of advice to users. The objective of this proposal therefore is to combine field sensor technologies and remote sensing methods to provide a comprehensive set of accurate advisory information to irrigation communities, integrated with crop management (see Appendix, Figure 1)._x000D__x000D_The innovative product to be developed is defined as:_x000D__x000D_A web-based package that will provide advice on when and how much to irrigate specific crops, based on spatial information from advanced sensors in the field and in space. The irrigation conditions will be linked to overall crop health and growing conditions. The joint product will be referred to as SATSEN._x000D_

Acronym SATSEN (Reference Number: 5519)
Duration 01/11/2010 - 01/11/2012
Project Topic An internet-based package that provides within-field variations and calibrated crop water information. This information is the basis for advanced irrigation scheduling and monitoring. The system of field and satellite sensors saves water and increases the net return of farmers.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 4

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
4 Centro de Asesoría Dr. Ferrer SL Partner Spain
4 Balmart, Sistemas Electrónicos y de Comunicaciones SL Coordinator Spain
4 WaterWatch B.V Partner Netherlands
4 Basfood B.V. Partner Netherlands