1. Integrating Precision Mobile Drip and Variable Rate Irrigation Technologies for Specialty Crop Vegetable Production
Background: Today, approximately 4.5 million acres of cropland in the Texas High Plains, mostly planted to cotton or corn, are irrigated using 30,000+ center pivot systems. Due to increasing groundwater scarcity and increased pumping costs, growers are looking for ways to maintain and improve their operations’ profitability, including switching to growing high-value crops such as watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and peppers. Center pivot sprinkler irrigation, however, can negatively impact specialty crop quality; using drip irrigation is preferable. This project is exploring the potential of converting existing irrigation infrastructure to mobile drip and targeting water applications dynamically throughout the growing season.