Fuzzy control system for variable rate irrigation using remote sensing

Willians Ribeiro Mendes, Fábio Meneghetti U. Araújo, Ritaban Dutta, Derek M. Heeren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Variable rate irrigation (VRI) is the capacity to spatially vary the depth of water application in a field to handle different types of soils, crops, and other conditions. Precise management zones must be developed to efficiently apply variable rate technologies. However, there is no universal method to determine management zones. Using speed control maps for the central pivot is one option. Thus, this study aims to develop an intelligent fuzzy inference system based on precision irrigation knowledge, i.e., a system that can create prescriptive maps to control the rotation speed of the central pivot. Satellite images are used in this study because remote sensing offers quick measurements and easy access to information on crops for large irrigation areas. Based on the VRI-prescribed map created using the intelligent decision-making system, the pivot can increase or decrease its speed, reaching the desired depth of application in a certain irrigation zone. Therefore, considering the spatial variability in the crop has made the strategy of speed control more realistic than traditional methods for crop management. The intelligent irrigation system pointed out areas with lower leaf development, indicating that the pivot must reduce its speed, thus increasing the water layer applied to that area. The existence of well-divided zones could be observed; each zone provides a specific value for the speed that the pivot must develop for decreasing or increasing the application of the water layer to the crop area. Three quarters of the total crop area had spatial variations during water application. The set point built by the developed system pointed out zones with a decreased speed in the order of 50%. From the viewpoint of a traditional control, the relay from pivot percent timer should have been adjusted from 70% to 35% whenever the central pivot passed over that specific area. The proposed system obtained values of 37% and 47% to adjust the pivot percent timer. Therefore, it is possible to affirm that traditional control models used for central-pivot irrigators do not support the necessary precision to meet the demands of speed control determined by the developed VRI systems. Results indicate that data from the edaphoclimatic variables when well-fitted to the fuzzy logic can solve uncertainties and non-linearities of an irrigation system and establish a control model for high-precision irrigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Systems with Applications
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019


  • Decision support system
  • Fuzzy control
  • Remote sensing
  • Speed control
  • Variable rate irrigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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