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small compared to the increased in yield achieved by applying water toward the end of the growing season.” The study showed that limiting early season cotton irrigation could potentially reduce annual water use by more than 27 trillion gallons of water per year on the High Plains with relatively small declines in lint yield compared to current practices. From those results and from other research through the years, the idea for DIEM came about. “We wanted to capture irrigation research results in a software tool that could easily be conveyed to the end users,” Bordovsky said. DIEM’s goal, he said, is to make it easier for users to visualize when they might be able to reduce their water use without causing a great deal of yield loss.

Jim Bordovsky, senior research scientist and agricultural engineer with AgriLife Research at Halfway, says irrigation efficiency for cotton has increased but there are more opportunities for water savings. Photo courtesy of AgriLife Research.

Visualizing irrigation Working with Dr. Jim Wall, executive director of TCAT, and TCAT’s software developers, the team developed an information dashboard that configures basic historical, near real-time and future agronomic data. The dashboard was built by leveraging a technology called the Information Dashboard Framework (IDF), developed by TCAT in coordination with AgriLife Research’s Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases. IDF collects, filters, processes and then presents information from multiple data sources, including weather and soil databases, crop and economic models, and in the future, crop canopy and soil sensors. The DIEM dashboard integrates field-specific soil profile characteristics; current local water availability, including the pumping capacities of the irrigation wells and water volume or pumping limits; and environmental factors such as potential evapotranspiration, rainfall and other past and current weather information. It also incorporates irrigation system characteristics; crop growth characteristics, such as planting date; and relevant field research on when best to distribute available irrigation water. When inputting information into DIEM, the farmer selects the specific field and weather station as well as planting date, number of irrigated acres and other inputs. The dashboard then produces a custom, optimized irrigation schedule; a DIEM yield score, which is the estimated pounds of cotton lint per acre; and a DIEM irrigation water-use efficiency score, which is pounds of cotton lint per acre-inch of irrigation water. ]

Spring 2016 txH 2O  19

Texas Water Resources Institute's txH2O Spring 2016  
Texas Water Resources Institute's txH2O Spring 2016  

Articles on water resources research and education.