Increased water demands and periodic droughts are threatening the sustainablility of irrigated agriculture in many areas of Southern Europe. Among irrigated crops, fruit trees are of high economic value and can suffer the most from poor water management because of the carry over effects into subsequent years. At present, methods used for irrigation management of tree crops are inadequate to meet the needs of irrigated agriculture under increasing pressures to conserve water from the rest of society. Excessive irrigation applications not only waste water but contribute to Nitrogen leaching and ground water pollution. With the recent developments in sensor technologies which allow for the continuous monitoring of tree water status and water use, it may be possible to develop simple techniques for irrigation scheduling of fruit trees by combining established technologies with direct measurements in the trees.
The objective is to manage irrigation of fruit trees (citrus, olives, apples, peaches and
avocados) for optimum water and nutrient utilization, for minimum water and nutrient losses and, at the same time, improve fruit quality by manipulating water supply to the trees using tree sensors whose operation can be automated.
Short description of the project
The final product (the major deliverable) of the research is envisaged to be an irrigation program for each of the species studied based on the use of automated sensors which should result in optimum water and Nitrogen use and in improved fruit quality.
The programme of work includes :
Assembling and evaluation of sensors to monitor Sap flow and Trunk diameter
Study selected tree responses to water deficits relevant to the design of irrigation
programs for optimizing water use for agricultural yield and quality.
Development of irrigation schedules that would optimize use of water and Nitrogen and that would improve the fruit quality.
Development of a prototype for automatic irrigation scheduling.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
08348 Cabrils (Barcelona)
46113 Moncada (Valencia)
731 00 Chania