WaterSmart: A Cyberinfrastructure-Based Integrated Agro-Geoinformatic Decision-Support Web Service System to Facilitate Informed Irrigation Decision-Making

Irrigation significantly increases crop yields but consumes approximately 80% of consumptive water and 23-48% of all energy used in crop production in U.S. Therefore, developing low-cost efficient irrigation technologies, applicable at the state or even national level, will have significant impact in enhancing agricultural profitability and competitivity and environmental and economical health. Data-driven irrigation scheduling approaches, based on timely and reliable measures of crop, soil, and weather conditions, have demonstrated significant water and energy savings and economic and environmental benefits, but require farmers to have knowledge of the approaches and timely and reliable measures, which they don’t normally possess. The project will strengthen food and energy security and environmental health of our nation, bring immense economic benefits to farmers, and help the US Department of Agriculture reach its 2030 sustainable agriculture goals. The goals are to save ~10% of overall irrigation water and energy usage, maximize irrigation returns on food and energy, and reduce farmer’s required time and investment in irrigation management.

WaterSmart, if successfully demonstrated in Nebraska, can be scaled to national level, resulting in a potential direct saving of 8.85 million acre-feet of water and $270 million in irrigation energy cost per year. WaterSmart will be built through maturing and systematically integrating recent advances in data-driven irrigation management, remote sensing, agro-geoinformatics, ontology-driven decision-making, modeling, Web service, and CI technologies. This project will automate data-driven approaches by developing a cyberinfrastructure (CI)-based integrated agro-geoinformatic decision-support Web service system, WaterSmart, and demonstrating its real-time operational capability for Nebraska at virtually no cost to farmers.