Towards a smart automated surface irrigation management in rice-growing areas in Italy

  • Daniele Masseroni | daniele.masseroni@unimi.it Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano, Milano, Italy.
  • Jasim Uddin National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia.
  • Reece Tyrrell Rubicon Water, Shepparton, VIC, Australia.
  • Iven Mareels Melbourne School of Engineering, University of Melbourne, VIC, Australia.
  • Claudio Gandolfi Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano, Milano, Italy.
  • Arianna Facchi Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano, Milano, Italy.

Abstract

Italy is the leading rice producer in Europe, accounting for more than half of the total high-quality production of this crop. Rice is traditionally grown in fields that remain flooded starting with crop establishment until close to harvest, and this traditional irrigation technique (i.e., continuous submergence) is recognised as an important water resource sink (almost 40% of the irrigation water available worldwide is used for paddy areas). Meanwhile, the water management in rice areas requires a high level of labour because it is based on maintaining a predetermined water height in paddy fields and because the regulation of input and output flow is typically operated manually by the farmer. This study reveals the hardware and software characteristics of an automated and remote controlled technology tested for the first time in a rice farm near Pavia (Italy), during the 2016 growing season, aiming at a more efficient and less burdensome irrigation management system for rice fields. A water level sensor in the field provides the data required to govern the inflow regulation gate in real-time, according to the precise time to cut off the flow rate. Using a dedicated web page, the farmer can control flows, volumes and water levels in the fields by operating directly on the gate if necessary or setting the irrigation program according to his agronomic practices.

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Published
2017-02-17
Section
Original Articles
Keywords:
Rice field irrigation management, automatic and remote controlled gate, real-time optimisation.
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How to Cite
Masseroni, D., Uddin, J., Tyrrell, R., Mareels, I., Gandolfi, C., & Facchi, A. (2017). Towards a smart automated surface irrigation management in rice-growing areas in Italy. Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 48(1), 42-48. https://doi.org/10.4081/jae.2017.585