Special Issue "Optimization of Irrigation Scheduling: Challenges and Perspectives"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Use and Scarcity".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Pilar Montesinos
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agronomy, University of Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
Interests: water–energy nexus in pressurized water distribution; renewable energies in irrigation; water resources management; precision irrigation; water footprint
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Irene Fernández-García
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Electrical Engineering and Automatic Control, University of Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
Interests: water resources management; water-energy nexus; energy optimization; water distribution networks; renewable energy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Sergio Lecina
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Independent researcher and consultant, Zaragoza, Spain
Interests: irrigation systems modelling; pressurized water networks modelling; water resources planning and management in irrigated areas.

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues

Irrigation is increasingly important for agricultural production in many regions of the world. A dramatic rise in the demand for agricultural water is expected in coming years because of population growth, and economic development under a probable climate change scenario. In such circumstances, there will most likely be a reduction in fresh water resource availability for irrigation due to increased urban, industrial and environmental demands. Thus, the improvement of irrigation water management is crucial to increase water use efficiency and, consequently, enhance the sustainability of irrigation agriculture.

Optimal irrigation management strategies are not easy to define. In particular, irrigation scheduling (magnitude, duration, and timing of irrigation events) depends on several variables relating to crop, soil, weather, irrigation and fertilization methods, energy source, water availability, and prices, raising a complex issue. Its goal is to meet crop water requirements in a cost-effective manner, optimizing the balance between the use of resources (water, energy, fertilizers, etc.) and crop yield and quality. Nowadays, irrigation scheduling can be more efficient by using new technologies based on accurate crop and irrigation models, weather forecasting, sensors, ICTs, AI and cloud computing, providing farmers with new tools to improve water use efficiency.

In this context, this Special Issue of Water is devoted to the optimization of irrigation scheduling. It is a call for innovative research papers that will advance challenges and new perspectives on irrigation scheduling, focusing on:

  • Water delivery and application
  • Crop water requirements
  • Soil and crop water status
  • Precision and smart irrigation techniques
  • Comprehensive crop-water use models
  • Application of artificial intelligence techniques
  • New approaches of the optimal irrigation scheduling problem
  • Real time irrigation scheduling techniques
  • Cloud computing and mobile apps
  • Decision making

Prof. Pilar Montesinos
Dr. Irene Fernández-García
Dr. Sergio Lecina
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Resources use efficiency
  • sustainabillity
  • ICTs
  • AI
  • optimization techniques
  • crop modelling
  • smart irrigation systems
  • irrigation modelling
  • water productivity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Generating Hydrants’ Configurations for Efficient Analysis and Management of Pressurized Irrigation Distribution Systems
Water 2020, 12(1), 204; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12010204 - 11 Jan 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 820
Abstract
Water scarcity is a mounting problem in arid and semi-arid regions such as the Mediterranean. Therefore, smarter and more effective water management is required, especially in irrigated agriculture. One of the most challenging uncertainties in the operation of on-demand collective Pressurized Irrigation Distribution [...] Read more.
Water scarcity is a mounting problem in arid and semi-arid regions such as the Mediterranean. Therefore, smarter and more effective water management is required, especially in irrigated agriculture. One of the most challenging uncertainties in the operation of on-demand collective Pressurized Irrigation Distribution Systems (PIDSs) is to know, a priori, the number and the position of hydrants in simultaneous operation. To this end, a model was developed to generate close to reality operating hydrants configurations, with 15, 30 or 60 min time steps, by estimating the irrigation scheduling for the entire irrigation season, using climatic, crop and soil data. The model is incorporated in an integrated DSS called Decision Support for Irrigation Distribution Systems (DESIDS) and links two of its modules, namely, the irrigation demand and scheduling module and the hydraulic analysis module. The latter is used to perform two types of analyses for the performance assessment and decision-making processes. The model was used in a real case study in Italy to generate hydrants’ operation taking into consideration irrigation scheduling. The results show that during the peak period, hydrants simultaneity topped 62%. The latter created pressure deficit in some hydrants, thus reducing the volume of water supplied for irrigation by up to 87 m3 in a single hydrant during the peak demand day. The developed model proved to be an important tool for irrigation managers, as it provides vital information with great flexibility and the ability to assess and predict the operation of PIDSs at any period during the irrigation season. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimization of Irrigation Scheduling: Challenges and Perspectives)
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Article
Influence of Irrigation Frequency on Radicchio (Cichorium Intybus L.) Yield
Water 2019, 11(12), 2473; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122473 - 24 Nov 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 934
Abstract
Red chicory (radicchio) plants produce leafy heads that are of great commercial interest and they require a proper irrigation technique to achieve satisfactory productivity. The use of mini-sprinklers with high-frequency irrigation schedules may increase radicchio productivity, provide better growing conditions due to timely [...] Read more.
Red chicory (radicchio) plants produce leafy heads that are of great commercial interest and they require a proper irrigation technique to achieve satisfactory productivity. The use of mini-sprinklers with high-frequency irrigation schedules may increase radicchio productivity, provide better growing conditions due to timely intervention, and save water, but so far little research has been carried out on this topic. This experiment aims at evaluating the effect of two mini-sprinkler irrigation schedules (high- and low-frequency) on radicchio yield and growing conditions over a 5-year cultivation period. Marketable radicchio head production was on average 12% greater with the high-frequency schedule (26.5 t ha−1) than with the low-frequency schedule (23.6 t ha−1), mainly due to greater head weight. The number of underweight, pre-flowering, rotten, and missing plants was significantly different between the two schedules when these variables were considered separately, but the overall number of marketable plants was greater in the high-frequency schedule during certain years. In general, the high-frequency schedule permitted to increase both radicchio yield and to reduce irrigation water use on average by 14% (−24 mm in volume), improving the irrigation water productivity by 19% (from 0.18 t mm−1 of the low-frequency schedule to 0.22 t mm−1 of the high-frequency schedule). Reducing the irrigation interval permits a timely adaptation to the weather course and improves radicchio growing conditions, presenting itself as a valid strategy that could be adopted by the farmers, upon appropriate consideration of energy and management costs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimization of Irrigation Scheduling: Challenges and Perspectives)
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Article
Using Soil Moisture Sensors for Automated Irrigation Scheduling in a Plum Crop
Water 2019, 11(10), 2061; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102061 - 02 Oct 2019
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 1344
Abstract
The growing scarcity and competition for water resources requires the urgent implementation of measures to ensure their rational use. Farmers need affordable irrigation tools that allow them to take advantage of scientific know-how to improve water use efficiency in their common irrigation practices. [...] Read more.
The growing scarcity and competition for water resources requires the urgent implementation of measures to ensure their rational use. Farmers need affordable irrigation tools that allow them to take advantage of scientific know-how to improve water use efficiency in their common irrigation practices. The aim of this study is to test under field conditions, and adjust where required, an automated irrigation system that allows the establishment of regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) strategies in a stone fruit orchard. For this, an automated device with an algorithm which combines water-balance-based irrigation scheduling with a feedback adjustment mechanism using 15 capacitive sensors for continuous soil moisture measurement was used. The tests were carried out in 2016 and 2017 in Vegas Bajas del Guadiana (Extremadura, Spain) on an experimental plot of ‘Red Beaut’, an early-maturing Japanese plum cultivar. Three irrigation treatments were established: control, RDI and automatic. The control treatment was scheduled to cover crop water needs, a postharvest deficit irrigation (40% crop evapotranspiration (ETc)) strategy was applied in the RDI treatment, while the Automatic treatment simulated the RDI but without human intervention. After two years of testing, the automated system was able to “simulate” the irrigation scheduling programmed by a human expert without the need for human intervention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimization of Irrigation Scheduling: Challenges and Perspectives)
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Article
Middleware to Operate Smart Photovoltaic Irrigation Systems in Real Time
Water 2019, 11(7), 1508; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11071508 - 21 Jul 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1573
Abstract
Climate change, water scarcity and higher energy requirements and electric tariff compromises the continuity of the irrigated agriculture. Precision agriculture (PA) or renewable energy sources which are based on communication and information technologies and a large amount of data are key to ensuring [...] Read more.
Climate change, water scarcity and higher energy requirements and electric tariff compromises the continuity of the irrigated agriculture. Precision agriculture (PA) or renewable energy sources which are based on communication and information technologies and a large amount of data are key to ensuring this economic activity and guaranteeing food security at the global level. Several works which are based on the use of PA and renewable energy sources have been developed in order to optimize different variables of irrigated agriculture such as irrigation scheduling. However, the large amount of technologies and sensors that these models need to be implemented are still far from being easily accessible and usable by farmers. In this way, a middleware called Real time Smart Solar Irrigation Manager (RESSIM) has been developed in this work and implemented in MATLABTM with the aim to provide to farmers a user-friendly tool for the daily making decision process of irrigation scheduling using a smart photovoltaic irrigation management module. RESSIM middleware was successfully tested in a real field during a full irrigation season of olive trees using a real smart photovoltaic irrigation system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimization of Irrigation Scheduling: Challenges and Perspectives)
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Article
Irrigation Factor Approach Based on Soil Water Content: A Nectarine Orchard Case Study
Water 2019, 11(3), 589; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030589 - 21 Mar 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1326
Abstract
Precision agriculture requires irrigation supported by an accurate knowledge of the crop water requirements. In this paper, a novel approach for drip irrigation scheduling of fruit trees is presented based on the results obtained during a full growing season in an early-maturing nectarine [...] Read more.
Precision agriculture requires irrigation supported by an accurate knowledge of the crop water requirements. In this paper, a novel approach for drip irrigation scheduling of fruit trees is presented based on the results obtained during a full growing season in an early-maturing nectarine orchard growing in a clay loam soil in a Mediterranean environment. Real-time water content was monitored in the soil profile of the main root exploration zone by means of capacitance probes; in addition, plant water status (midday stem water potential and leaf gas exchange) and canopy development were frequently measured throughout the vegetative cycle. The reference evapotranspiration (ET0) values, taken from a nearby automatic meteorological station, and the measured irrigation values allowed the determination of the irrigation factors once irrigation drainage during the season was assumed to be negligible and plant water status was proved to be adequate. The proposed irrigation factors offer a hands-on approach as an easy tool for irrigation management based on suitable soil water deficits, allowing the water requirements of nectarine trees under precision irrigation to be determined in semi-arid agrosystems where water resources are limited. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimization of Irrigation Scheduling: Challenges and Perspectives)
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Review

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Review
Trends and Challenges in Irrigation Scheduling in the Semi-Arid Area of Spain
Water 2020, 12(3), 785; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030785 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1650
Abstract
A growing international human population and rising living standards are increasing the demand for agricultural products. Under higher pressure over natural resources, environmental concerns are increasing as well, challenging current water use decision-making processes in irrigated agriculture. Higher agricultural productivity means water should [...] Read more.
A growing international human population and rising living standards are increasing the demand for agricultural products. Under higher pressure over natural resources, environmental concerns are increasing as well, challenging current water use decision-making processes in irrigated agriculture. Higher agricultural productivity means water should be applied more efficiently, which requires instant information on weather, soil, and plant conditions throughout the growing season. An information-based irrigation scheduling application tightened to the spatiotemporal variability of the fields is critical for enhancing the current irrigation system and making better irrigation scheduling decisions. The aim of this study is to review current irrigation scheduling methodologies based on two case studies (woody and field crops) located in semi-arid areas of Southeast Spain. We realize that optimal irrigation programming requires consistent investment in equipment, expenditure on operation and maintenance, and qualified technical and maintenance services. These technological approaches will be worthwhile in farms with low water availability, high profitability, and significant technical-economic capacity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Optimization of Irrigation Scheduling: Challenges and Perspectives)
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