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Using wireless technology to reduce water use in rice production




Vories, Earl D., author
Fisher, Daniel K., author
Tacker, Phil L., author
Sudduth, Kenneth A., author
U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage, publisher

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While rice is produced in some parts of the world in an upland, rainfed culture, almost all US-produced rice is grown with flood irrigation. In the dry-seeding system commonly used in the midsouthern US, the crop is usually flooded at approximately the V-4 (early tillering) growth stage and a continuous flood is maintained until after heading. The total amount of water used in rice production is quite large, and soil, fertilizers, and pesticides can be carried in the runoff from agricultural fields. Flood depth affects most aspects of flooded rice production, and remote monitoring of the flood depth could be quite valuable to many producers. The objective of this research is to develop and test a system for monitoring water depths in rice fields and alerting the producer so that less labor and energy is required to efficiently manage flood-irrigated rice. A prototype monitoring station was designed to measure water depth in a flooded rice field and transmit the information over a wireless link. A similar sensor and circuit performed satisfactorily in a raingage in 2006. In 2007, prototype monitoring stations will be installed in production rice fields. Concurrently with sensor durability testing, tests will be conducted to determine the limits of the wireless communication system. With daily reports of the water status in each paddy, field visits can be reduced. Over-pumping should be minimized by allowing better scheduling of field visits to stop the pump, and future systems should work with automatic pump control systems to stop the pump before runoff occurs.


Presented at the Role of irrigation and drainage in a sustainable future: USCID fourth international conference on irrigation and drainage on October 3-6, 2007 in Sacramento, California.

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