Photo: Alberta Irrigation Technology Centre
Irrigation researchers at Lethbridge College has received funding to help producers to adjust irrigation easier by gaining a better understanding of how much moisture is available in soil, Lethbridge College says in a news release on June 8.
Willemijn Appels, Lethbridge College’s Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation, has received more than $420,000 through Results Drive Agriculture Research (RDAR) for the three-year project. The research will use microwave radiometer technology to create maps of the water in the soil and translate the data in order to adjust how much water is added through irrigation, the release notes.
“This technique gives us a map of the moisture in an entire area, instead of just a point observation you get when you install something in the ground,” explains Appels in the release. “Ideally, in the future, the sensors would be used to estimate soil moisture conditions just ahead of the sprinklers. Then after doing some calculations the amount of water the sprinklers put on would be adjusted while the pivot is moving.”
Appels has worked with Skaha Remote Sensing, the British Columbia manufacturer of this technology, before learning it can map moisture in the top 60 cm of the soil, the release says.
The RDAR funding will allow Appels to hire a post-doc student to analyze data as part of the project.