In hopes of providing farmers a better way to irrigate, George Vellidis is researching soil moisture sensors and their impact on variable rate irrigation systems.

The goal of the professor on the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Tifton campus is to help farmers maximize the efficiency of their irrigation systems; thereby increasing the potential yields for various crops.

He said that as competition intensifies for this natural resource, there’s an increasing likelihood that water availability for agricultural use in the future will decrease.

 “Increasing competition for water resources will likely result in less water available for agricultural production,” said Vellidis. “Precision irrigation promises to optimize the use of this precious resource.”

While soil moisture sensors are not uncommon, what is unique to Vellidis’ research is the use of web-based user systems that are at farmers’ fingertips. With Vellidis’ work, sensors measure soil moisture, transmit that data back to an Internet site where the farmer analyzes the information and takes appropriate actions after determining what’s transpiring in his field. The farmer can do this from his home computer or smart phone.

“Our next step is to take that information, produce specific recommendations for the producers and tell them their soil condition is such; if you irrigate, add half an inch to this part of the field, add an inch to this part of the field, add three-fourths of an inch to this part of the field so you bring all the soils up to field capacity without adding extra water so it drains out,” Vellidis said.