Development of the Mississippi Irrigation Scheduling Tool-MIST

Author(s): Sassenrath, G.; Schmidt, A.; Schneider, J.; Tagert, M.; van Riessen, H.; Corbitt, J.; Rice, B.; Thornton, R.; Prabhu, R.

Increasingly variable and uncertain rainfall patterns together with higher production input costs have led farmers to rely on supplemental irrigation to enhance production. While many irrigation methods have been developed for dry climates, few tools are available for humid, high rainfall areas. Moreover, most scheduling tools require extensive data collection, entry and simulation runs, limiting their practical utility during the production season. We have designed the Mississippi Irrigation Scheduling Tool (MIST) as a web-based, easy to use management tool for crop producers. An estimate of crop water use is made using the modified Penman Monteith to calculate daily evapotranspiration. The "checkbook" water balance method sums the water balance of the soil, plus water from rainfall or irrigation, minus water used by the crop or evaporated from the soil. This method indicates the need for irrigation when the soil water available to the plant falls below that which is readily available for crop growth. To enhance utility, the MIST has been implemented in a web interface, allowing producers to access the information from anywhere through tablet computers or smart phones. To reduce the data entry requirements, the system relies on national databases for automated integration with a water balance model. The system was tested at multiple production sites during the 2011, and 2012 growing seasons. This presentation will give details on the development of input parameters for the water balance calculation, including crop water use and soil moisture, and water balance during the growing season for corn and soybeans. Additional presentations in this session will describe the implementation of the user interface (Rice et al.), calibration and validation of the model (Prabhu et al.), and spatial accuracy of national databases (Thornton et al.). The MIST will provide producers, consultants and other professional colleagues with a reliable, accurate, and easy to use tool for improved water management.

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