An Update on the Mississippi Irrigation Scheduling Tool

Author(s): Tagert, M.; Linhoss, A.; Rawson, J.; Sassenrath, G.

Since the 1970’s, groundwater levels in the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer have decreased as the number of irrigated acres in the Mississippi Delta has increased. Today, there are roughly 18,000 permitted irrigation wells dependent on water from the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer. As concern has grown over groundwater declines, farmers have been implementing more irrigation conservation measures, such as the use of surge valves and computerized hole selection, which improve irrigation application methods. Some farmers are also using soil moisture sensors to improve irrigation timing, although this can be cumbersome, especially if irrigating a large number of fields. The Mississippi Irrigation Scheduling Tool (MIST) is a web-based irrigation scheduling tool designed to help farmers manage and schedule irrigation in a humid climate. The tool provides an estimate of crop water use based on a “checkbook” approach that determines the water balance of the soil, plus water from rainfall or irrigation, minus water used by the crop or evaporated from the soil. Daily evaporation is calculated using the modified Penman-Monteith equation. The system automatically notifies the farmer if irrigation is required when the available soil moisture balance falls below a set threshold. MIST, which is being tested in selected areas in the MS Delta region, has a web interface that allows producers to access their information from anywhere through tablet computers or smart phones. This presentation will give an update on the MIST project and summarize progress to date.

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