Source: AUBURN UNIVERSITY submitted to
EVALUATION OF INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGIES FOR MINIMUM TILL ROW CROP PRODUCTION ON ROLLING IRREGULAR TERRAIN
Sponsoring Institution
State Agricultural Experiment Station
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0196149
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
ALA080-019
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jun 1, 2003
Project End Date
May 31, 2006
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
Fulton, J.
Recipient Organization
AUBURN UNIVERSITY
108 M. WHITE SMITH HALL
AUBURN,AL 36849
Performing Department
BIOSYSTEMS ENGINEERING
Non Technical Summary
Landscape factors in Alabama production agriculture has limited SDI utilization. These factors include relatively small field acreage and rolling terrain. Evaluate new SDI tape that utilizes pressure compensating emitters and microflappers on rolling terrain through precision agriculture practices.
Animal Health Component
35%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
25%
Applied
35%
Developmental
40%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1010199310020%
2050199202025%
2051719310025%
4055360202030%
Goals / Objectives
1) To integrate multiple precision agriculture and soil and water conservation technologies for enhanced row crop production, 2) To evaluate cotton production on rolling terrain irrigated with SDI in conjunction with tillage practices, 3) To evaluate spatial yield variability as related to SDI and topography, 4) To evaluate irrigation installation and cultural practices carried out using precision guidance equipment, and 5) To evaluate the performance of a new SDI product developed for use on rolling terrain.
Project Methods
This research will be established on an approximately 15 acre field on the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center (TVREC), Belle Mina, Alabama. The field will be mapped with a Verisr Technologies 3100 Soil Electroconductivity Mapping System equipped with a Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) to develop field EC variability. Electroconductivity measurements will be taken at two depths: 30 cm (1 ft) and 90 cm (3 ft). Soils will be sampled utilizing GPS grid sampling techniques and tested through the Auburn University Soils Testing Laboratory. SDI will be installed between every other plant row at a 15 inch depth using precision guidance equipment with cultural practices carried out using the same technology in the fall of 2003. All treatments will have rows 1200 ft. in length over rolling terrain. The tractor will be instrumented with a data acquisition system and sensors to evaluate vehicle performance and field position throughout the installation. At the completion of field operations utilizing the tractor, performance and location data will be compiled and used to develop maps similar to yield maps and machine performance parameters will be compared to soils data.

Progress 06/01/03 to 05/31/06

Outputs
This project was conducted on a 12-acre field at the Tennessee Valley Research and Extension Center, Belle Mina, AL. Treatments included cover vs. no-cover and irrigated vs. non-irrigated. Wheat was used as the cover crop and planted later fall. The SDI system was installed in the Fall of 2003 with the 2004 growing season used to trouble-shoot and get all the wireless monitoring technology installed. Precision agriculture technologies were used to accurately install the tape on 80-in spacing and during field operations to place inputs accurately in relation to the cotton rows. Irrigation was based on 60% pan but adjusted for canopy closure. A cotton picker equipped with a yield monitor was used to provide cotton performance data. SDI tape depth and location measurements indicated that tape was installed at an average depth of 12.7 in. differing from the desired 15 in. depth. Collected cone penetrometer data increased with depth, reaching the 2.0 MPa level around the 25-cm depth but no differences in cone index measurements were found between treatments. Seed cotton yields indicated no differences between treatments in 2005, possibly due to above average seasonal rainfall but significant differences existed between irrigated (2625 lbs/ac) and non-irrigated (1020 lbs/ac) seed cotton yields for 2006. The 2006 growing season was one of the driest on record. Irrigated yields were 61% higher than non-irrigated in 2006 demonstrating the potential of SDI systems for increasing cotton yields. Differences for the cover crop vs. no-cover crop existed and were as much as 16% higher than the plots without a cover crop. The trend appears to be that cover crops are providing yield benefits especially during dry growing seasons by providing increased OM and water holding capacity. Quality analyses indicated that significant differences existed between measured quality features except for Leaf Grade. Of interest, irrigated plots had significantly higher lint strengths and length than on the non-irrigated plots. Lint uniformity was significantly higher on irrigated plots with a cover crop. Uniformity was also significantly higher for the plots with irrigation and no cover crop compared to both non-irrigated treatments. Another result discovered during 2006 for this project was that using 60% of calculated pan evaporation (adjusted for % canopy closure) for scheduling irrigation was not sufficient during drought conditions. Visual assessment of the cotton during the growing season showed less vegetation and boll development when compared to other ongoing irrigation studies at TVREC. Based on these results, 90% pan should be selected to schedule irrigation for SDI systems in North Alabama. Since RTK autoguidance is used during fieldwork on this study, temporal evaluation of autoguidance systems was conducted for the project. Results indicated that GPS drift in non-RTK units can lead to off-paths errors up to over 1 m. However, results for RTK based autoguidance systems have not measured drift over long time periods. Wireless technology was successfully implemented to remotely manage the SDI system.

Impacts
This project has helped to establish management procedures for subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) in Northern Alabama along with making pressure compensated SDI tape available to Alabama producers. The research and outreach efforts of this project have helped to authenticate the potential economic benefits and limitations of SDI system on rolling terrain for cotton production by demonstrating water use savings when compared to center pivots while increasing cotton yields. The project also demonstrated the integration of precision agriculture technologies including wireless monitoring with pressure compensating SDI tape for improved placement of inputs in relation to cotton rows for maximum yield benefits.

Publications

  • Harbuck, T.L. J.P. Fulton, T.P. McDonald, and C.J. Brodbeck. 2006. Evaluation of GPS Autoguidance Systems over Varying Time Periods. ASABE Paper No. 061042. ASABE Annual International Conference, Portland, Oregon, 9 - 12 July 2006.
  • Dougherty, M., J.P. Fulton, L.M. Curtis, H.D. Harkins, B.E. Norris. 2006. Off-Stream storage efficiency for cotton production in Northern Alabama. ASABE No. 0682123. ASABE Annual International Conference, Portland, Oregon, 9-12 July 2006.


Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05

Outputs
One of the many goals for this project is demonstrating the usefulness of these new technologies to help Alabama farmers determine if and how they could be incorporated into their management strategy. Progress for 2005 included accurately verify SDI tape location and determine actual tape depth. SDI tape depth and location of the SDI tape were collected at twenty randomly selected locations across the study site. Results indicated an average tape depth of 12.7 in. (STD DEV = 1.1 in) differing from the original desired 14 in. depth. These data permitted the establishment of new AB lines for using the RTK autoguidance system for precisely locating cotton rows and cover crops in relation to SDI tape runs during planting. SDI maintenance included fall and spring flushing for cleaning the system. Field activities included planting cover crops followed by spring fertility management and then by planting a cotton crop. New additions have included the installation of wireless moisture and flow sensors for real-time monitoring, spatial assessment, and archiving of soil moisture and flow rates over the growing season. Wireless technology use is rapidly growing in agriculture and this was the first system installed by AAES researchers related to irrigation research. The addition of this technology has improved project management while demonstrating this technology during tours and field days. Data collected for the 2005 season included collecting cone penetrometer measurements on a per treatment basis. Data indicated that cone index, in general, increased with depth, reaching the 2.0 MPa level around the 25-cm depth. No differences in cone index measurements were found between treatments to date. Yearly soil strength measurements will be taken with expectations being the development of a shallow compaction layer in the no-cover crop treatments. Grid soil samples for fertility analyses were collected during the late fall and compared to past samples. Seed cotton yields indicated no differences between treatments, again possibly due to above average seasonal rainfall. A methodology has been developed to assess the performance of automated guidance systems and their interaction with SDI systems during field operations. Results have indicated that GPS drift in non-RTK units can lead to off-paths errors up to 2 m. This evaluation will continue over the next year to assess temporal effects of GPS drift on guidance systems.

Impacts
This project will permit researchers to more fully investigate and demonstrate the capabilities of precision agriculture techniques when soil moisture variability is controlled. This study is also one of the first to test subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) on rolling terrain and could demonstrate significant benefits to farms where traditional center pivot irrigation systems are not feasible. Outcomes could provide new irrigation management strategies for SDI systems and unique applications of guidance systems.

Publications

  • Fulton, J.P., J.N. Shaw, M. Dougherty, and R. Raper. 2005. An Overview: Merging of Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) and Auto-Guidance for Cotton Production in Alabama. Proceedings of the 27th Southern Conservation Tillage Conference, June 27-29, Florence, SC.
  • Dougherty M., J.P. Fulton, L.M. Curtis, H.D Harkin, C.H. Burmester. 2005. Subsurface Drip Irrigation and Fertigation in Northern Alabama. ASAE Paper No. 052208. Annual International Meeting, Tampa, FL, July 17-20.
  • Fulton, J.P., M. Dougherty, L.M. Curtis, H.D Harkin, C.H. Burmester. 2005. Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) Scheduling and Tape Placement for Cotton Production in Alabama. ASAE Paper No. 052244. Annual International Meeting, Tampa, FL, July 17-20.
  • Fulton, J.P., J.N. Shaw, P.L. Mask, and R. Raper. 2005. Merging sub-surface drip irrigation (SDI) and auto-guidance. Winter 2004 publication of John Deeres Ag Management Solutions Growing Innovations. AMS: Urbandale, Iowa.
  • Management Strategies Increase Water Efficiency: Pressure-Compensated SDI. July 2005 Issue of Cotton Farming. One Grower Publishing: Memphis, TN.


Progress 01/01/04 to 12/31/04

Outputs
Research efforts over the past year focused on collecting additional baseline data, completing SDI control hardware installation, troubleshooting the SDI system, determining irrigation scheduling protocol, and establishing the correct autoguidance AB lines for all field operations. A DEM was created using the collected elevation data while all grid soil sample data was analyzed and summarized. Thought SDI tape and main line installation occurred the previous year, flow meters and additional SDI system hardware installation was completed during the spring. New AB lines were established and archived for using the RTK autoguidance system for precisely locating cotton rows and cover crops in relation to SDI tape runs. A cotton crop was planted using a 4-row precision planter and tractor equipped with RTK autoguidance. Irrigation scheduling was established at 60% evaporation of pan for timing of watering events. All treatment zones were irrigated during the cropping season to establish proper functioning of the SDI tape, valves, and flow meters for this first full year of operation. Therefore, no dry land treatments were created. A majority of the growing season was used to fix tape and main line leaks with minimal irrigation scheduled due to the above average rainfall for the year. At present, the SDI system is fully operational with most of the issues, primarily leaks, corrected. A cotton picker equipped with a yield monitoring systems was used to provide spatial crop performance across the test site. However, no analyses were preformed based on treatments since the entire system was operated during any irrigation event. However, the summarized yield for the entire study showed no difference over dry land cotton harvested from adjacent fields probably due to the abundant rainfall during the growing season. The system was flushed in the fall for cleaning. Cover crop treatments were planted using the RTK autoguidance system after harvest. Twenty randomly located holes were dug to accurately verify SDI tape run locations plus measure the actual tape depth across the plot. Average tape depth was 0.33 m with a 0.03-m standard deviation. All collected data for this project has been archived into a GIS database for future analyses. The system is ready for full research implementation during this coming cropping season.

Impacts
This project will allow researchers to more fully investigate and demonstrate the capabilities of precision agriculture techniques when soil moisture variability is controlled. This study is also one of the first to test subsurface drip irrigation on rolling terrain and may show significant benefits to farms where traditional center pivot irrigation systems are not feasible.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period


Progress 01/01/03 to 12/31/03

Outputs
Activities in 2003 centered around installing the subsurface drip irrigation system and collecting baseline data for the study. The subsurface drip irrigation tape was installed in the 15 acre field using GPS guided tractors. Tape was installed at depths of approximately 12.5 to 14 in. deep on 1200 ft long rows. This field will be used primarily for growing cotton trials. A water distribution system was fabricated and connected to the buried drip tape and the water pumping system was installed. During the installation of the drip tape, the baseline GPS guidance data and draft data were collected that will allow automated tractor guidance during planting, fertilizing, and harvesting operations in subsequent years of the study. Additional data were collected and processed to develop the Digital Elevation Model for the field. A grid sampling method was used to collect soil samples throughout the field and results from those soil tests have been compiled. Additional soil conductivity measurements were made for the field using the Veris Soil Electroconductivity Mapping System. The result of this is a baseline map of soil conductivity across the field. The subsurface drip irrigation system is now prepared for planting and irrigation beginning in the 2004 calendar year.

Impacts
This project will allow researchers to more fully investigate and demonstrate the capabilities of precision agriculture techniques when soil moisture variability is controlled. This study is also one of the first to test subsurface drip irrigation on rolling terrain and may show significant benefits to farms where traditional center pivot irrigation systems are not feasible.

Publications

  • No publications reported this period