Component Integration and On Site Application

Simulation models greatly extend the capabilities of sensor networks by using relayed sensor data for calculations that accurately quantify tree and nursery water requirements, thus allowing better management of water and nutrient use in horticulture production facilities.

As a decision support system, estimates of real-time and forecasted plant water use could be used to schedule irrigation in a way that matches water applied with actual plant water requirements

Why deploy a wireless sensor network?

A sensor network is composed of  "nodes" equipped with environmental sensors and built-in radios.  When placed in the field, the nodes automatically find each other to create a wireless network.  Collected data is then automatically relayed to a central point, and then made available at remote locations. The ability to collect data in this manner has been demonstrated in a production nursery setting, however the use of such data for real-time model calculations is a key next step in closing the loop.

Why integrate a biological process model?

Biological process models are algorithms that permit us to estimate whole tree and/or nursery water use.  Data that is shuttled from the field via a sensor network is inserted into models that predict plant reactions to environmental and substrate conditions.  Although the complexity of the biological process models is not trivial, Windows driven software masks the intricacy and allows the end user to operate in a user-friendly environment.

How and why do we integrate the sensors with biological process models?

For the purpose of the application of process-based nursery and landscape water management, sensors/models can be coupled to a windows interface that simplifies end user operation. In so doing, it integrates the plant-soil-atmosphere-management interaction into a user-friendly PC windows environment.  Without such integration, potential benefits of decision support sensors and/or models would not be realized.

Outcome Potential

Our overall intent is to refine and integrate independent technologies to improve the efficiency of existing irrigation practices. Sensor networks provide a low-cost, flexible, easily installed infrastructure that can be used to collect measurements from sensors in the field and relay them to a central location for processing and decision management. Process based models allow us to use sensor data to estimate dynamic plant responses and cost effectively quantify tree and nursery water needs.

Integration of both components within a software GUI will provide the nursery industry a means to accurately estimate real-time plant water use and to ultimately schedule irrigation water applications that match actual plant water requirements.

By retaining a greater proportion of irrigated and rain fall water in the root-zone, water will be conserved, nutrient runoff will be minimized, costs reduced and plant growth will be maximized.

Please direct all questions and comments to Dr. Bill Bauerle bauerle@colostate.edu.