The progress made in agricultural irrigation scheduling in the past ten years and the current challenges are discussed.
The main scientific scheduling strategies are based on soil water status, plant characteristics, and crop modeling.
Challenges include large time and data requirements and availability of decision support systems.
Opportunities include integration of scheduling strategies and demonstrating their effectiveness through local studies.
Abstract. Irrigation scheduling is the process of determining the appropriate amount and timing of water application to achieve desired crop yield and quality, maximize water conservation, and minimize possible negative effects on the environment, such as nutrient leaching below the crop root zone. Effective irrigation scheduling has been shown to save water, save energy, and help agricultural producers achieve improved yields and quality. However, scientific irrigation scheduling methods generally have remained limited to mostly research applications with relatively low adoption by irrigators. There are several main approaches to irrigation scheduling, including those based on soil water status, plant characteristics, and/or crop modeling. Each of these approaches has advantages as well as limitations and sources of uncertainty and variability, depending on application conditions. This article summarizes progress made in the U.S. in each of the main scheduling approaches in the past ten years (since the 2010 Decennial Irrigation Symposium) and existing challenges and opportunities that should be considered moving forward. This article is intended to guide future research and extension projects in improving adoption of scientific irrigation scheduling approaches. Keywords: Computer modeling, Plant characteristics, Soil water status.