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Infrared automatic drop irrigation for sweet sorghum cropping

Objective

Determination of relationships between irrigation and crop yield. Utilization of infrared technique for CWSI determination as irrigation control. Utilization of soil humidity as reference measurement. Critical analysis of the methods, and comparisons for what concerns their efficiency.
Sweet sorghum is considered a strategic European crop for industrial utilization as a biomass source. Its growth is linked to the type of irrigation during the growing season. Therefore it is important to have a knowledge of the amount of water required at various times. The objective of the research is the determination and evaluation of a methodology introducing physical parameters which are a reliable index of the sweet sorghum conditions. This information allows a decision to be made in respect to the amount and type of irrigation to be applied. Three methods are to be considered as vitality indicators. They are the crop water stress index (CWSI), multispectral reflection analysis (MRA) and fluorescence lidar.
The sweet sorghum is considered a strategic European crop for industrial utilization (as biomass crop). The growth of this crop is linked to the type of irrigation during the growing season; therefore it is very important to have a deep knowledge of this crop according to the amount of water supplied.

The research carried out by OFFICINE GALILEO SpA, will be conducted in Central Italy, near Florence. Two methods will be followed and integrated each other, in order to evaluate the crop humidity conditions.

A) This method is based on the Crop Water Stress Index (CWSI), according to the results obtained by an infrared apparatus, which measures the crop stress on the base of ambient parameters and crop parameters.

B) This method is based on the measurement of the ground humidity. The soil test is made by means of humidity sensors installed into the ground itself.

Thus operating is therefore possible to establish the capability of the infrared apparatus to evaluate the state of stress of the crop. Such operation is very important because from here, it is possible to make the monitoring of large crop areas by means of simple infrared devices.

This project should be considered as the first step to the monitoring in large scale of wide biomass crop areas. An optimal monitoring, together with a good knowledge of the crop characteristics are the most important points for cultivation of biomass crops (and in particular sweet sorghum) with high yields together with an appreciable water (and therefore energy) saving. Therefore, this research project will be followed by a complete R&D project in large scale in the next Joule Programme.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Officine Galileo SpA
Address
35,Via Albert Einstein
50013 Campi Bisenzio (Firenze)
Italy