The Oklahoma Mesonet, a network of environmental monitoring stations, offers farmers a tool to help manage irrigation systems more efficiently to get “the most benefit from the water. It helps determine ‘when and how much,’” said Al Sutherland, OSU Mesonet Agricultural Coordinator.
Sutherland explained how the systems functions and how farmer can use the data to make better use of irrigation water resources at the recent inaugural Oklahoma Irrigation Conference in Fort Cobb, Okla.
“Often in hot, dry summers, farmers simply turn on irrigation systems and let them run,’ Sutherland said. “But with subsurface drip irrigation systems and in years with more rain, producers need to make decisions on when to irrigate.”
The system considers multiple factors including soil type, temperature, humidity, wind speed ad solar radiation to determine evapotranspiration rate. The system website also includes an irrigation planner that help farmers determine when and how much water to apply to growing crops.
Sutherland said the program works well with a tablet or laptop but not as well on a smartphone.
The Oklahoma Mesonet consists of 120 automated stations covering Oklahoma. There is at least one Mesonet station in each of Oklahoma's 77 counties.