Georgia soybean and blueberry farmers will soon have smartphone applications to supplement their practical knowledge with technical data on when to irrigate crops.The SmartIrrigation app, set to be released this year for both iOS and Android devices, uses detailed weather data to estimate how much water a crop needs. The app then sends the user a notification when irrigation should be applied instead of farmers applying water when they think their crop needs it, said George Vellidis, precision agriculture specialist on the University of Georgia Tifton campus.“These new apps will allow soybean and blueberry growers to better schedule their irrigation events so that they can maximize water use efficiency for their crops. In other words, they can get more crop per drop of water used,” said Vasileios Liakos, a UGA assistant research scientist working with Vellidis, who led the development of these two apps at UGA. “This should also increase their profitability.”UGA scientists, with colleagues from the University of Florida, have developed smartphone applications for multiple commodities, including cotton, citrus, strawberries, vegetables and residential turfgrass. An app for corn is currently in the development stage and will be available in 2020.SmartIrrigation apps allows farmers to water efficiently by linking technology with fundamental knowledge of crop physiology.During research studies at UGA, the apps proved to be more efficient than common irrigation scheduling methods. For example, over the past five years, using the cotton app resulted in an average reduction of 44 percent in irrigation water use and an average yield gain of 13 percent compared to the UGA Cooperative Extension calendar or checkbook method.“The apps have the same type of improvement in irrigation scheduling, water use and yield improvements we see when using soil moisture sensors. This is pretty remarkable since the only data we are collecting from the field is measuring rain with an automated rain gauge,” Vellidis said. “Using the apps is much easier and considerably cheaper than using almost any type of automated soil moisture sensor.”Vellidis and his team also have developed SmartIrrigation tools, such as variable rate irrigation (VRI), to help producers become more efficient with their water use.VRI allows center-irrigation pivots to apply different amounts of water to individual management zones within a field. Since the soil and landscape are not the same throughout a field, VRI technology helps the producer apply the precise amount of water needed in each area for optimum crop growth. The application rates are coded into a prescription map for that field. Once developed, the same rates can be used throughout the growing season every year.“Our approach for creating dynamic prescription maps is to use large numbers of soil moisture sensors to estimate the amount of irrigation water needed to return each irrigation management zone to an ideal soil moisture condition,” Liakos said.UGA scientists tested the VRI system in peanut farmers’ fields over the past three years and saw water-use efficiency gains ranging from 16 to 40 percent and yield gains ranging from 2 to 4 percent.For more information on this research, visit www.smartirrigationapps.org.
“There’s so much to do at the football club from the training facilities, to the ground, to the organisation – everything has got to change. It’s got to step up a level,” Pulis said. “I have spoken to (co-chairman) Steve Parish and there are certain things that are going to happen almost immediately when the season finishes because everywhere needs upgrading. “This club has got to stay in the Premier League for three or four years. If it can do that, you can bed the club down and establish it in the Premier League and then you can really push on. “You can’t make the changes necessary after one season, you need the second and the third and even the fourth season to give you the financial clout to have everything in place to compete with other clubs. “That is what we did at Stoke. We did it gradually over a period of time and this is what Crystal Palace need now to make sure it’s not just a one-off. We have to keep going.” Palace were widely tipped for relegation after a woeful start to the season in which the team won just one of their opening 11 league matches. Pulis’ arrival has sparked a stunning revival however, leading to suggestions he should be awarded manager of the season ahead of the likes of Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers and Everton’s Roberto Martinez. “It is not for me to blow my own trumpet or pat myself on the back, that’s for other people to say,” Pulis said. “That is very nice [to be talked about] and, if I got it, there would be no-one more pleased than myself. B ut there are other people involved, a football club is not just about one person. “The chairman and the directors deserve a lot of credit for backing us in January, and the players have really bought into what we are trying to do. “You can have situations where you take over as manager when people don’t get behind you, and then no matter who you are, you are in trouble.” Palace could have a major influence on the title race as they host Manchester City on Sunday before another home game against league leaders Liverpool. The Eagles could also play a decisive part in the relegation battle given they visit struggling Fulham on the final day of the season. “We have a responsibility to the Barclays Premier League and to the rest of the teams that we give the best we possibly can,” he said. “We know our two games at home are going to be very difficult against two top teams and Fulham might still be fighting to get out of the bottom three, and other teams will expect us to put in a shift so it’s all to play for.” Pulis added: “It’s fantastic for the players and it’s also brilliant for the supporters. “The supporters here have been absolutely first-class this year, so to finish with Man City and Liverpool – two fantastic games at home – is a dream for them.” Press Association Palace are 11th in the table after registering five consecutive victories and guaranteed their safety in the top flight with a 1-0 win at West Ham last weekend. Pulis insists there is no room for complacency however, and believes there is considerable work to be done on and off the field before the club can start to feel secure in the top tier. Crystal Palace need an overhaul at all levels if they want to establish themselves in the Barclays Premier League and ensure survival is not a one-off, according to manager Tony Pulis.