Wasat analysed implementation potential of two geo-information services and presentation possibility of the their products directly on the field using computer and mobile technology as well as integration with modern irrigation equipment. These services were selected from the portfolio of applications that were the subject of technical and business viability analyses during the study.
The following prototype products are planned to be developed and delivered to users who will provide feedback necessary for further improvements of service performance:
- irrigation recommendations providing advisory information whether to irrigate fields and on quantity of water to be used;
- indication of fields’ parcels/areas with the greatest demand for water (spatial optimisation of irrigation).
Users and their needs
In frame of the activity, two user segments are targeted:
- Farmers (field crops producers) who already use irrigation systems, but seek an accurate advisory service that can make irrigation more efficient in view of diminishing water resources and limited possibility to cover all their fields simultaneously with available irrigation equipment – currently that group is dominated in Poland by potato producers;
- farmers who do not yet apply irrigation but consider it due to technical and economic incentives in the context of changing weather and climate patterns, i.e. mainly the growing frequency of droughts.
The needs of farmers, agronomists and irrigation advisors concern various aspects of irrigation. This includes, among others, the needs related to aspects of crop management as well as economic and environmental factors. Farmers consider crop management and profitability of crop cultivation as the most important factors.
Due to the fact that determining the optimal date of irrigation and optimal dose of water requires analysis of various types of data, this is one of the stages of the process with which farmers have difficulties. To some extent this can be facilitated by the use of various types of IT systems.
Although the general knowledge about the functioning of irrigation is quite well developed, there is still a big gap in terms of irrigation advice. Farmers buy those systems but still have limited idea WHEN and HOW MUCH to irrigate to get optimal results, save water or reduce a risk of crop loss under the conditions of drought and water shortages.
Irrigation of agricultural crops is often associated with the use of very large quantities of water. The availability of water in many farms is limited, especially where there are no natural large water reservoirs. In order to better manage irrigation process, farmers need IT solutions that will allow them to better estimate the amount of water needed for irrigation, in relation to infrastructure capabilities and water accessibility.
In larger farms that irrigate several or more fields, it is important to adopt the right irrigation sequence. They often require watering at a very similar time, however, due to limited availability of equipment (sprinklers, pumps etc.) and water resources it is not possible to carry out irrigation at the same time. Therefore, the information on the optimal sequence of irrigation would enable farmers a better management of the entire process.
Service/ system concept
ClimField service, accessible through an annual subscription, will provide complex data on conditions prevailing on farms and their spatial distribution within individual fields. The main products will be variable rate irrigation maps in file formats adapted for implementation in modern irrigation equipment.
The proposed service will be based on modelling of water balance (including evapotranspiration), as well as on application of moisture-related spectral indices. Earth Observation data and products available in frame of Copernicus Programme will be the main source of input data, weather predictions calculated by numerical models will provide supplementary data.
Space Added Value
Space assets that will contribute to the proposed service are: Earth Observation and GNSS. The multispectral Earth Observation data (low and high resolution) will be applied as input for models calculating water demand of plants as well as for monitoring the response of crops to water deficits. The developed application for smartphones will use GNSS to locate users on the field and allow to perform irrigation more efficiently in place and time.
The project was launched in February 2018 and lasted for six months. It was successfully completed.