George Vellidis, a scientist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and an expert in precision agriculture and water resources management has developed a new smart phone app to help cotton farmers for determining cotton irrigation needs. It provides notifications to the user when irrigation is needed.
The app helps cotton farmers to assess weather conditions needed to irrigate their crops and save water as the app is programmed to use data from UGAâ€™s Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network (GAEMN) and the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWN). Growers have to register a field on which they want to use the app by using their smart phone with built-in GPS. The app then automatically locates the closest weather station.
The app doesnâ€™t tell farmers how much water to apply but keeps a balance of how much water is in the soil by estimating how much water the crop uses daily and by adding rain and irrigation to that balance. The app does not deliver irrigation application recommendations but only recommends when the grower should irrigate. Cotton farmers use the most water when their crop is flowering and when the bolls are filling. So, the grower should best make use of the app after the cotton has been planted.
The Cotton App provides notifications to the user when actions such as irrigation are needed so that the user can utilize the root zone soil water deficit information to make appropriate irrigation decisions.
The new UGA app also notifies farmers when to take action so they do not have to check the app every day. In its first year, the app can now be used with center pivot irrigation systems. Later, the app will be updated to allow users to select between center pivots and drip systems.
The cotton app has been released on April 16 and can be freely downloaded at Smart Irrigation Apps after it was tested in many fields during 2013 and it tested well under a variety of conditions. According to Vellidis, this new app outperformed most other irrigation scheduling tools.
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