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UD helps farmers manage irrigation

July 9, 2012 — Watering corn, cantaloupes and other crops with industrial-sized sprinklers can be costly for farmers, but so can be fields parched by dry, hot weather. University of Delaware researchers are helping growers find the right balance between irrigation and rainfall with new online software that incorporates Delaware-specific environmental data.

“Our goal is to make the best available information that farmers need easily accessible,” said Kevin Brinson of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment’s Delaware Environmental Observing System, who developed the tool with assistance from College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Deputy Dean Tom Sims and associate scientist James Adkins.

The recently launched Delaware Irrigation Management System (DIMS) lets farmers enter information about their crops that is then combined with weather station feeds and physical data from the environment, such as soil composition, to calculate how much water is available underground to plant roots. The system is designed for several irrigated crops in Delaware: corn, soybeans, sweet corn, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, lima beans and peas.

DIMS is the only irrigation scheduling application written specifically for Delaware with automatically updated weather data. The free software provides a straightforward interface that allows users to quickly determine if a field has enough moisture – and make immediate irrigation decisions.