Bnchmrkng Adv Irrigation Schdlng for Peanuts in AL, FL and GA while evaluating plating date and irrigation impacts on new peanut cultivars, yield, grade, aflatoxin, and water requirements and use of drone technology for management decisions


University of Georgia

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Southeast (GA, FL, AL)

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rrigation management is becoming increasingly important for peanut production with more than 50% of the peanut acreage in Georgia and Florida now irrigated. In Alabama, the irrigated acreage is smaller but increasing rapidly as the state is providing incentives for producers to adopt irrigation. With the resulting increase in demand for water resources, it is imperative that we develop and adopt technologies and strategies which maximize water use efficiency. Recent research in peanut growing states indicates that several "advanced" irrigation scheduling methods including soil moisture sensing or canopy temperature sensing can be an effective and efficient way to irrigate peanuts. In addition, there are web-based tools that use estimated crop evapotranspiration to schedule irrigation. Precision irrigation is a tool that can be used to implement all of these practices and is defined as varying the application rate of irrigation water across the field to meet the crop's measured demand. Precision irrigation is made possible by two key technologies. The first is variable rate irrigation (VRI) for center pivot irrigation systems. The water conservation potential of the technology has been recognized by USDA-NRCS which provides 100% cost-share in Alabama and 75% cost-share in Georgia for VRI systems. The second critical technology is cheap, wireless, and easy to maintain soil moisture sensing systems which can be installed in high densities within fields to provide us with the data we need to calculate how much water to apply with our VRI systems. UGA has developed the UGA Smart Sensor Array (UGA SSA) which meets these criteria. However, the UGA SSA has not yet been used to schedule irrigation in conjunction with VRl-enabled pivots. In addition most of the other technologies described earlier have not been tested under southeastern conditions with the current peanut varieties. The addition of the Florida study will also add the following. Confirmation of the best planting dates for irrigated and non-irrigated peanuts and will help us determine management for the crop and if one cultivar is more suitable to either irrigated or non-irrigated production. We can determine which cultivars do the best with early planting and which do the best without irrigation as water issues become more important. This study will be a multi-year project since each year is different with different amounts of rainfall and impacts of thrips on peanut and TSW. NDVI (vegetative index) will be determined via infra­red cameras and irrigation needs via thermal imaging. 

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