Irrigation Management With Artificial Intelligence

Tacy CalliesIrrigation

Sandra Guzmán

Artificial intelligence (AI) can be an overwhelming topic, but Sandra Guzmán says it is easier to swallow when it helps growers.

Guzmán, an agricultural engineering assistant professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Indian River Research and Education Center, has been working directly with growers to integrate the benefits of in-field technology.

The influx of AI and cloud computing devices hitting the market can be difficult for growers to comprehend, which is why Guzmán and her team are working to make the technology as user friendly as possible.

“If it’s easy to use, it’s useful,” Guzmán says. “We have many options available for management of irrigation, but this is a little overwhelming for the growers. So, we are trying to first of all, continuously verify that the data that they are getting is reflecting what the growers are seeing in the field … Unfortunately, things that are new have a little bit of a learning curve, so we are in that process.”

For many growers, irrigation scheduling has been one of the most important management practices to improve crop production. The more accurately the irrigation system applies water, the more water savings and overall crop vigor is achieved.

Guzmán’s ongoing work includes developing easy-to-use tools to manage irrigation and increase automation. She has been working with computer modeling programs that can forecast irrigation needs up to three months in advance to help growers conserve water. In the future, the idea is to have a Smartphone app, similar to a weather forecast app, that growers can easily access to evaluate water needs.

Overall, AI systems can greatly benefit producers. By combining information from multiple sources in real-time, growers can increase productivity, yields and profit.

This interview with Guzmán is featured in the December 2020 episode of the All In For Citrus podcast, a joint project of UF/IFAS and AgNet Media. Listen to the full podcast here.

This article was written by Ashley Robinson, AgNet Media communications intern in Gainesville, Florida.