Automated irrigation systems for wheat and tomato crops in arid regions
Automated irrigation systems (AISs) are critical for the sustainability of irrigated farming systems, considering the present water crisis in Saudi Arabia. This study investigated whether electronic controllers in irrigation systems effectively save water. The study also assessed the effect of these controllers on crop yield using drip and sprinkler irrigation systems in severely arid climate conditions. Evapotranspiration (ET) controllers were installed in experimental fields of wheat (Triticum aestivum) and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum Mill.) crops for 2 successive seasons. The results revealed that the water use efficiency (WUE) and irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) were typically higher in the AIS than in the conventional irrigation control system (CIS). Under the AIS treatment, the WUE and IWUE values were 1.64 and 1.37 k·gm-3 for wheat, and 7.50 and 6.50 kg·m-3 for tomato crops; under the CIS treatment the values were 1.47 and 1.21 kg·m-3 for wheat and 5.72 and 4.70 kg·m-3 for tomatoes, respectively. Therefore, the AIS provided significant advantages in both water savings and crop yields by utilising up to 26% less water than the CIS, and simultaneously generating higher total yields. The automated irrigation system technique may be a valuable tool for conserving water and scheduling irrigation for wheat and tomato crops, and may be extendable to other similar agricultural crops.
Keywords: autonomous control, evapotranspiration controller, water conservation, sprinkler and drip irrigation, water-use efficiency, arid regions