This paper “looks across the river” to explore computer engineering applied within agriculture, particularly precision irrigation. It begins with work by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). They developed guidelines for estimating a crop’s water requirements. These guidelines describe a set of equations (Penman-Monteith form) drawn from the physics of evapotranspiration. The equations estimate water loss based on information specific to the crop, soil, terrain, and weather conditions. Many good papers have been published on applications of the hand-held calculator produced from those equations. This present paper addresses the gap between software-supported manual implementation of FAO’s equations and full automation. The project reported within transitions theory to practice by creating a proof-of-concept for an adaptive automation process that combines an embedded version of FAO’s equations with automated feeds of weather data and connectivity with irrigation controllers. The result is a prototype for an adaptive human-supervised fully-automatic approach to irrigation based on estimated crop moisture needs. With precision irrigation, farmers seek to cope with drought by minimizing water use without devaluing the crop. This present work is another effort in that vein..
Key words: Precision irrigation, distributed systems, water conservation, evapotranspiration, Penman-Monteith, adaptive automation, precision agriculture.
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