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Design and testing of an automatic irrigation controller for fruit tree orchards, based on sap flow measurements

AuthorsFernández Luque, José Enrique CSIC ORCID ; Romero Vicente, Rafael CSIC; Montaño Asquerino, Juan Carlos CSIC; Díaz-Espejo, Antonio CSIC ORCID ; Muriel Fernández, José L.; Cuevas Sánchez, Mª Victoria CSIC ORCID; Moreno Lucas, Félix CSIC ORCID; Girón Moreno, Ignacio F. CSIC ORCID; Martín Palomo, Mª José
KeywordsIrrigation control
Remote handling
Microprocessor applications
Sap flow
Issue Date2008
PublisherCSIRO Publishing
CitationAustralian Journal of Agricultural Research 59 (4045): 589-598 (2008)
AbstractWe designed and tested an automatic irrigation control system for fruit tree orchards, designated CRP. At the end of each day, the device calculates the irrigation dose (ID) from sap flow readings in the trunk of trees irrigated to replenish the crop water needs, relative to similar measurements made in over-irrigated trees. It then acts on the pump and electrovalve to supply an ID sufficient to keep the soil close to its field capacity during the irrigation period. Remote control of the system is possible from any computer or Smartphone connected to the Internet. We tested the CRP in an olive orchard in southern Spain. The device was robust and able to filter and amplify the output voltages of the heat-pulse velocity probes and to calculate reliable sap flow data. It calculated and supplied daily irrigation amounts to the orchard according to the specified irrigation protocol. The remote control facility proved to be useful for getting real-time information both on the CRP behaviour and the applied IDs, and for changing parameters of the irrigation protocol. For our conditions, olive trees with big root systems growing in a soil with a remarkable water-holding capacity, the approach mentioned above for calculating ID had not enough resolution to replace the daily crop water consumption. The device, however, was able to react when the soil water content fell below the threshold for soil water deficit. The threshold value was identified with simultaneous measurements of stem water potential in the instrumented trees. Our results suggest a change in the irrigation protocol that will allow the CRP to apply a recovery irrigation whenever that threshold is reached, making the device suitable for applying a deficit irrigation strategy in the orchard.
Description10 pages, 4 figures,
Publisher version (URL)
Appears in Collections:(IRNAS) Artículos

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