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Focus on Cotton

Precision Irrigation Management: Challenges and Opportunities

By Michael Plumblee, Ph.D., CCA
Precision Agriculture Extension Specialist
Edisto Research & Education Center
Clemson University
Blackville, South Carolina
Phone:
803-269-8922
Email: mplumbl@clemson.edu


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Summary: Variable rate irrigation is a concept that has received more attention in recent years due to concerns with groundwater withdrawals for agricultural irrigation. Variable rate irrigation technologies have come a long way over the last two decades and have become commercially available for growers. While the technology has the capability to precisely apply water to crops, the decision making aspects of when variable rate irrigation is appropriate and how to accurately make prescriptions is still being researched. Previous research conducted on variable rate irrigation has shown promise in certain fields where as much as 25% water savings have been reported. Continued research on determining how much field variability is warranted to justify variable rate irrigation and prescription development is needed and ongoing.





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