Implementation of the Mississippi Irrigation Scheduling Tool in a dynamic web-based format

Author(s): Rice, B.; Sassenrath, G.; van Riessen, H.; Schmidt, A.; Tagert, M.

The Mississippi Irrigation Scheduling Tool (MIST) has been developed to provide a daily calculation of water balance for row crop production. This daily calculation incorporates field specific data on soil type, tillage depth, row spacing, and crop type to make a recommendation on crop water needs. Weather data is automatically downloaded from national and regional databases and used to calculate daily evapotranspiration rate using the Modified Penman-Monteith equations. The first goal of MIST was to make it more accessible to the users. To do this, MIST was implemented as a web application, developed with Java and HTML. Using a web application eliminates the need for the user to download, install and update software. The main difficulty with a web application is making sure that every browser is displaying the web pages correctly since each web browser can interpret code differently. Incompatibilities between web browsers were observed a few times; one of these occurrences was with the font that was being used. Potential incompatibilities are determined by testing the system on multiple web browsers and platforms, though updates in these systems may present problems in the future. All the data is stored within a MySQL database, which currently contains twenty tables each having between three to twenty data columns depending on the data stored. Database security is maintained by restricting server connections to local only. One of the more common SQL attacks is done through SQL injection. Prepared statements are used to prevent these types of attacks. Most of the data are stored in plain English text with a table's data column. Passwords are converted to a MD5 checksum. MD5 checksum is a cryptography based algorithm that allows the storage of data without knowing what the data actually is. This provides security in the event someone is able to obtain access to the database—sensitive information will not be accessible. There are a few different types of user ranks within the interface: admin, manager, consultant, company, and farmer, with each user rank assigned different permissions. To assist in the tedious task of setting up each field within the farm, farmers are allowed to select the border of their field with Google maps. Implementing MIST has been full of challenges and decisions that will be discussed in this paper. Given the widespread adoption of tablets and smartphones, a web application provides equal access to any device that has access to a web browser.

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