Artificial Intelligence for Irrigation Models

Mohammad Valipour’s vision for artificial intelligence irrigation systems spans all of the world’s farms — from the small family-owned land tracts — to vast commercial grove and field operations. His ambition sprang up as a youth in western Iran. He lived about 600 kilometers from Tehran, in the valleys near Kermanshah, in a rural town called Eslamabad-e Gharb. There, families speak Kurdish and make a living from crops they produce on modest farms. Valipour’s family is a member of the Kalhor tribe in Iran, one of the most ancient and powerful, according to scholars who contribute to the Encyclopaedia Iranica.

In Eslamabad-e Gharb, the climate is mild, semi-arid, and the valleys are green most of the time. The soils are slate and mocha-colored. Rock shelves form the toes of mountains. On the face of one rock shelf is Taq-e Bostan, ancient arches that protect bas reliefs of Persian Sassanid art from the fourth century. Higher than the repeated rock shelves is Mount Paraw, which holds some of the world’s most upper and deepest caves.

Valipour recounts memories when, along with his family, he would scoop green chickpeas from their pods and load them into his mouth. “Tasting the freshness of sweet chickpeas is so different from eating them from a can or a frozen box,” he said. “When you taste something freshly harvested, it is intense.”

Valipour’s family grew chickpeas and wheat in alternating years. Today, his cousin continues with the farming tradition. The land inherited from previous generations has been in the family for longer than anyone can remember. There are no records. However, Valipour has memories, and not all of them are positive. At times, there was no water in the soil or pests emerged, and the family’s crops would perish.

“We had not had enough yield, productivity was low because we had no access to water to irrigate the field,” said Valipour. “Our fields were watered only by rain. Also, sometimes there was only minor rain. Other times, there were droughts. When there was no water, we knew we could not expect enough yield.”

 

A CAREER IN HYDROLOGY AND IRRIGATION BEGINS

The moments during which Valipour’s family lost their crops changed him. He wondered how he could extract water from the land. It was those moments that moved him to his career – a lifelong commitment to investigate irrigation sustainability for more reliable crop yields. Over time, and through his formal education, Valipour learned the science behind hydrology and irrigation. He said he would use his skills to help his family, his neighbors — and his nation.

“Water affects everything, and for crops, water is especially important for yield and productivity. I decided to study irrigation and water science to gain knowledge about water management processes for crop production,” said Valipour.

Today, he is a highly trained hydrologist and irrigation scientist. His vision to improve crop yield with smart irrigation continues with his research and findings. The findings must be transferred as clearly as possible to growers, he said.

“Irrigation operations must be adapted to consider climate change and water shortages to achieve sustainable crop development in the future,” said Valipour.

Valipour earned a bachelor’s in irrigation from Razi University, a master’s in irrigation and drainage from the University of Tehran, and a Ph.D. in Water Sciences and Engineering from Sari Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources University. All of the forgoing universities are in Iran.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND MACHINE LEARNING FOR IRRIGATION

For his undergraduate degree, Valipour’s work involved quantitative analysis of land topography using computer programming. During his master’s and doctorate studies, Valipour’s work took place indoors, with models and software. He learned to make simulations – or to predict possible outcomes for hydrology scenarios using computers and historical data stored for past decades. He used models to simulate irrigation and hydrology. Models help us to identify changes in crop water requirements. Water needs change based on variations on weather variations such as heavy rain in Florida, hurricanes, or a dry summer in Iran.

Valipour recalls a statement made by renowned British statistician, George E. P. Box: “All models are wrong — but some are useful.”

“What this means is that although modeling can help us to have an insight of natural phenomena, nothing can predict with 100% certainty what is going to happen in the future,” said Valipour.

During his doctoral studies, Valipour used artificial intelligence, or more specifically, genetic algorithm and gene expression programming. The pattern evolves and automatically creates computer programs that tell irrigation equipment to dispense certain water volumes. The programs then mimic natural responses like a tree taking up water or losing moisture in its leaves during a hot, sunny day.

Valipour developed hybrid models to estimate evapotranspiration over agricultural fields in Iran. He included climate change projections to determine the best conditions for crop production. Valipour said natural-based models, “neural networks” are inspired by nature. “Traditional mathematical models loop redundantly when you want to solve complex non-linear problems like plant responses to water,” said Valipour.

Valipour codes decades of historical data about weather and water availability. He then uses data to predict future needs when specific weather conditions emerge. For his master’s work, he forecast the amount of water that would flow into a dam using artificial neural networks.

When he graduated with his Ph.D., he decided to extend his knowledge in the U.S. and learn about humid climates and technologies for crop production.

POST DOCTORATE IN THE U.S.

As a post-doctorate at Auburn University in Alabama, Valipour learned how to analyze data from satellite images. The images provide historical data for weather and hydrology to his models. In America’s deep balmy south, growers have vastly different irrigation needs than do Iran’s farmers. Alabama soils are fertile and retain more water.

During Valipour’s studies in Alabama, he evaluated soil moisture dynamics using remote sensing, land surface models, climate reanalysis and in situ measurements, or field data. He also assessed the interactions between soil moisture and precipitation and evapotranspiration over the entire U.S. by using soil moisture and root zone soil moisture estimation technology produced by NASA, called Soil Moisture Active Passive, or SMAP.

“The results showed that one of the remote sensing methods, SMAP, had better agreement with soil moisture observations collected by sensors in the field. Furthermore, most of the soil moisture products show significant correlation with precipitation and evapotranspiration.”

The computer and software-generated models gave him the predictability he wanted for his career, but he wanted to go further and understand how data is created by working on field-based experiments. He wants to produce meaningful predictions based on the relationships that you can only see by walking through the field. Searching online, he found Dr. Sandra Guzmán’s smart irrigation and hydrology lab at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science’s Indian River Research and Education Center (UF/IFAS IRREC) in Fort Pierce.

“My background is in computer simulation, but I also want more knowledge in plants and field conditions,” he said. “There is a considerable difference between what you think you can simulate with models and the dynamic interrelations you find in the field.”

Valipour said the main irrigation problem for both Iranian and American farmers is that surface irrigation is inefficient when it is not managed correctly.

Growers are not sure how much or for how long to irrigate. Even with the best climate, important conditions are unknown, especially the way the soil and plant interact with water. One of those examples is irrigation management when citrus greening is present. Also, the type of soil and irrigation system is important to provide high efficiency in water use.

“The important thing is that we can improve,” said Valipour. “Now we have pressurized irrigation and smart technologies such as controllers and soil moisture sensors to operate efficiently, but still a lot is needed.”

For this reason, improving irrigation efficiency is essential, so that farms may operate with higher efficiency. A properly installed and well-managed set of sensors and controllers could provide huge savings in water and energy use, said Valipour.

TODAY AT UF/IFAS IRREC

Valipour’s work as a post-doctorate at IRREC entails rapid development of new irrigation technology for Florida’s citrus groves. His work in Florida is part of his vision to modify and improve irrigation. A second focus for his work is evapotranspiration.

NUTRIENT LEACHING AND EVAPOTRANSPIRATION

“Here at IRREC, I have focused on two different projects. The first is the evaluation of best management practices and smart irrigation to make more efficient the use of water and nutrients for citrus production. I am evaluating citrus beds covered with a fabric mulch and making daily irrigation recommendations based on an automatized irrigation system. My second research focus is to assess variations in evapotranspiration based on a set of related climatic variables,” said Valipour.

Valipour said he can develop quick recommendations for citrus growers to irrigate young trees growing under groundcovers. The guidelines will be specific to each grove’s conditions and are analyzed based on data gathered from soil moisture sensors installed in the field and information provided by the grower.

“Hydrologists are able to help food producers everywhere in the world with the development of more efficient irrigation practices,” said Valipour. “There is much work to be done, and we will keep working to achieve greater food production while conserving water.”

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Posted: September 10, 2019


Category: Agribusiness, Agriculture, Crops, Horticulture, UF/IFAS Research
Tags: AI, Artificial Intelligence


Comments:

Robin Koestoyo
October 22, 2021

Thank you for your wonderful comments! Mr. Croxton--please email me at koestoyo@ufl.edu We need a letter of support for an award nomination. Thank you!

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koestoyo

October 4, 2021

The fungi are endemic to Central Florida. Dr. Avery has presented on this topic at the Florida Citrus Show for the last two years. Thank you for your encouraging comments. We are excited about the possibilities.

cooking oil disposal
October 4, 2021

Hey there! I could have sworn I've been to this site before but after reading through some of the post I realized it's new to me. Anyways, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

Rick Minton
October 2, 2021

Yes Good work was wondering where the fungi are found and why didn’t we know about it sooner?

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koestoyo

October 2, 2021

Hi Rick. Did you want to comment?

Rick Minton
October 2, 2021

Martin
September 18, 2021

Thanks much, Beth :)

Beth Curry
September 17, 2021

Congratulations Martine

Martin
September 10, 2021

Thanks for your kind words, colega. I am also rooting for you here!! Tons of love from this beautiful strip of land :)

Matt Croxton
August 31, 2021

Dr. Minteer has graciously volunteered her time and expertise to work with an aspiring biocontrol researcher at my high school in Florida. I'm so grateful for her investment and congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition. Outstanding Scientist indeed!

Rebecca Rogers
August 31, 2021

As a teacher in the high school that Carrie attended, North Pulaski in Jacksonville, AR, let me say how proud all of the former students and teachers are that one of their own is making such a positive impact in the world of biological science! I am also proud to see that Dr. Minteer is actively involved with the young people of today, exposing them to the fascinating world of science. Dr. Carrie Minteer, thank you for making a difference!

Alma Gabriela
August 24, 2021

So grateful to meet people like you, my dear collegue. I'm pretty sure that you'll achieve all your goals. I send you a hug from Valle de Bravo, MX.

Patrick Cavanaugh
August 2, 2021

Great work on trying to keep Florida Citrus Growers economically viable. They have weathered a lot over the last decades. Congrats to UF/IFAS!

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koestoyo

November 21, 2020

Hello. We need funding to mass raise the thrips for public distribution. Meanwhile, the insects we did raise are at work on state lands and private ranches

Janet Larson
October 10, 2020

How can we get ahold of this thrip? I live in Jacksonville Beach, at the marsh and we have a lot of Brazilian Pepper in City of Jax Beach Cradle Creek Park ( and quite frankly at my house I too, keep hacking at it) The Parks and Rec Dept of Jax Beach would be the contact I guess for this. We did a invasive BP round up one weekend day, but we barely dented the surface of this invasive at Cradle Creek. Please help

shilkaren
September 29, 2020

Hi Koestoyo, Such an amazing article. It's very interesting to read more about how AI can be used in the industry. You would love to see my python course duration and fees in pune site as well. Thanks once again.

Betty Jo Starke
September 25, 2020

This is fantastic. I would love to see the flow of the process from original elementary product and subsequent break down and by products. Isn’t Florida rich in phosphorus over by Route 60 in western side of state? Thank you for your brilliance. - Betty Jo Starke..

Yinka
September 11, 2020

Very insightful! With your wealth of experience,I trust you’ll be a great addition to IRREC

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koestoyo

August 12, 2020

Hello Asghar, I have heard from three of our scientists and none of them know about artificial breeding of Telenomus baseola. One of the scientists did suggest that you simply add those keywords to the Google search engine. They feel the answer is somewhere online.

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koestoyo

August 7, 2020

I will ask our entomologists and get back to you after they respond.

Asghar Babamir
July 29, 2020

Hello I am an Entomology PhD student at Chamran University of Iran. I am working on artificial breeding of Telenomus baseola. If you have any information about its artificial food send me please.

Egem Ozbudak
July 26, 2020

Thank you very much Şahin Hocam! Being your student was a great chance and privilege!

Şahin Alakuş
July 22, 2020

We are proud of Egem Özbudak. It was clear to see that he is going to be a scientist in the future when he was our student in high school in Izmir, Turkey.

elaine
July 18, 2020

The naturally occurring benefits were on citrus trees growing near the canopy of oak trees. This would say to me that it must be the leaves falling from the oaks to the ground that is giving the citrus trees the oak leaf extract.Therefore, it's brown leaves off the ground that you can use to make your oak leaf tea. I've just been brewing a 5gal. bucket of brown leaves, and watering my trees with the tea once a week. I've had normal looking fruit from my kumquat tree this spring already, so it might be working!

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koestoyo

June 16, 2020

Hello, have you seen any changes in your citrus trees?

suba suba
June 11, 2020

I think this is a real great blog post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

Ronke
May 16, 2020

Very good interview with lots of insight. I trust Doc. Tolu will make IRREC proud.

Kelly Babatunde
May 14, 2020

Bravo Doc. I know you will be a great addition to IRREC. More of those giant strides!

WD
May 6, 2020

Darlington oak.

WD
May 6, 2020

Mimic nature. I’m trying it myself, I have nothing to go on but instinct. I’m soaking a 5 gallon bucket full of green leaves for two days, then straining and diluting in my 50 gallon sprayer. Haven’t seen much change but it’s only been 3 weeks, once a week.

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koestoyo

May 1, 2020

It is better if the oak leaves are green.

Reginald Rothing
May 1, 2020

If I was to make oak leaf tea to spray my citrus, does it matter if the oak leaves are green or dried brown?

Jon
February 27, 2020

I have several feral citrus trees growing under oak trees in Palm City. Some may be sour oranges, but based on where my dog used to bury grapefruit I believe some are the Duncan variety. I offer these trees for a UF trial study if that would be useful.

joe H walter
January 28, 2020

Program and release in Brevard County will be at the Extension Service, 3695 lake /dr. Cocoa, on April 9th. Registration for the even will be on Eventbrite.

Stephanie
January 25, 2020

I would be curious about the rest of the layers of plants around the citrus and the varietals of oak.

Gina Hubany
January 25, 2020

What about integrating the fallen leaves into the soil? &/or using it as mulch?

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koestoyo

January 24, 2020

Where would one import such a map please?

Justin Jeannero
January 24, 2020

So is it possibly people are not seeing the forest for the trees on this one. Is it possible that the soil is healthier around oak trees than in a monoculture environment and maybe there is more beneficial bacteria and mychorizae associated with them than a field type environment. ?

Jay Reynolds
January 23, 2020

Maybe this link to the video will work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtO0Pa6tD8s&t

Jay Reynolds
January 23, 2020

Check out a poductive feral citrus population videotaped in an oak understory and you can see the benefit. Search youtube for the following, "Wild Citrus in a Florida Forest? Why It's a Big Deal."

John Wisler
January 23, 2020

If the extract of the Oak Tree leaves is effective against HLB, It would appear by developing a harvesting method for the leaves could be achieved and have the extract made into a finished spray in quanties at a processing plant like.Bayer chemicalThey being a good place to start. The challenge to Bayer et.al would be to turn this into a systemic treatment which lasts longer than spraying. Bayer et.al have technology in place which they use on the ash boer as an example.If effective systemically on HLB ,is the need to check the toxicology of the extract regarding potential human consumption.is probably required. The toxicology study would be required for sprays as well. Currently existing for other application using systemics on tree can be effective for a year with one application to the base of the tree.The average cost to do an application tree using an application of 1 ounce per 1 inch of circumference of the trunk of the tree should be affordable.

Narinder Singh Majitha
January 22, 2020

Please import 3D map of citrus + oak inter cropping method

Audrey Granahan
January 22, 2020

Would mulching with oak leaves be of any benefit?

Susan Knorr
January 22, 2020

Could new groves be set up with interplanting of oak and citrus trees? It seems like the citrus trees would have to be resprayed regularly, an expensive process.

samiha_FS
November 26, 2019

merci pour les informations

Jeanne Andre
November 9, 2019

Just saw this too late. This is wonderful. Is there a way for me to release in a residential area in Indialantic?

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koestoyo

September 12, 2019

Hello Mr. Burchianti. Thrips will be made available to the public in about a year. At this time the scientists are releases thrips during news conferences. A news conference is scheduled for October 24.

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koestoyo

September 12, 2019

PRESS RELEASE The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program Comes to Successful Conclusion Research and extension faculty with UF/IFAS have reached successful completion of the five-year Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program. UF/IFAS project partners are: Dr. Carey Minteer (lead) with the Indian River Research and Education Center and Ken Gioeli (co-lead) at the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County. This program began in 2014 as an initiative by the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center and the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County in collaboration with Extension offices and partner agencies throughout Florida. The focus of the project involved the introduction of a new biological control agent Lilioceris cheni (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to helped teach residents how to use the insect to manage the invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera). Floridians struggled to control this invasive vine which can grow up to eight inches per day and smother native vegetation. This UF/IFAS research and extension program was paired with a mass rearing effort and distribution process that helped citizens throughout Florida. Researchers at USDA ARS are credited for discovering L. cheni as a viable biological control agent for air potato. The program has been highly successful with tens of thousands of L. cheni beetles provided to stakeholders for release. It significantly increased the general knowledge of invasive species of the people surveyed by an average of 227 percent and general knowledge about biocontrol by an average of 401 percent. Perception of the safety of biological control increased by an average of 434 percent and perceived effectiveness of biocontrol increased by 344 percent. The combination of a charismatic and effective natural enemy along with an educational program has significantly increased the knowledge about invasive plant species and the knowledge and acceptance of biocontrol as a safe and effective control method. The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program was recognized with three national awards and one state award. While UF/IFAS has completed research and extension activities with this project, educational resources will continue to be made available online at http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatobiologicalcontrol.shtml. This website features information about insect availability from project partners. For additional information, please call Natural Resources and Environment Extension Agent IV Ken Gioeli with the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County at 772-462-1627 or ktgioeli@ufl.edu.

Avatar photo
koestoyo

September 12, 2019

PRESS RELEASE The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program Comes to Successful Conclusion Research and extension faculty with UF/IFAS have reached successful completion of the five-year Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program. UF/IFAS project partners are: Dr. Carey Minteer (lead) with the Indian River Research and Education Center and Ken Gioeli (co-lead) at the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County. This program began in 2014 as an initiative by the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center and the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County in collaboration with Extension offices and partner agencies throughout Florida. The focus of the project involved the introduction of a new biological control agent Lilioceris cheni (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to helped teach residents how to use the insect to manage the invasive air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera). Floridians struggled to control this invasive vine which can grow up to eight inches per day and smother native vegetation. This UF/IFAS research and extension program was paired with a mass rearing effort and distribution process that helped citizens throughout Florida. Researchers at USDA ARS are credited for discovering L. cheni as a viable biological control agent for air potato. The program has been highly successful with tens of thousands of L. cheni beetles provided to stakeholders for release. It significantly increased the general knowledge of invasive species of the people surveyed by an average of 227 percent and general knowledge about biocontrol by an average of 401 percent. Perception of the safety of biological control increased by an average of 434 percent and perceived effectiveness of biocontrol increased by 344 percent. The combination of a charismatic and effective natural enemy along with an educational program has significantly increased the knowledge about invasive plant species and the knowledge and acceptance of biocontrol as a safe and effective control method. The Air Potato Biological Control Extension Program was recognized with three national awards and one state award. While UF/IFAS has completed research and extension activities with this project, educational resources will continue to be made available online at http://bcrcl.ifas.ufl.edu/airpotatobiologicalcontrol.shtml. This website features information about insect availability from project partners. For additional information, please call Natural Resources and Environment Extension Agent IV Ken Gioeli with the UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County at 772-462-1627 or ktgioeli@ufl.edu.

Barbara Fox
August 16, 2019

How fortunate we are to have such a 'treasure' in our community. The word is dependent upon such research.

Rosemary Capen
August 13, 2019

Great article. Wish we had more researchers lik you, Jonny.

JOHN BURCHIANTI
July 24, 2019

interested in acquiring the "thrips" insect for control of brazalian pepper trees

Laura Stapleton
July 18, 2019

How can I get more air potato beetles? Since I released the last batch I've found three more areas separate from the original where air potatoes are taking a hold. I appreciate any direction you can give. Sincerely, Laura Stapleton

Debbie Acevedo
June 28, 2019

Hello. I am extremely interested in obtaining as many red beetles as possible. I have over 5 acres that is overrun by potatoe vines. They are consuming our entire property. I am willing to pay for assistance in getting rid of or atleast deterring this problem. Please let me know if you can help. Thank you so much.

KIRAN TIMILSINA
April 18, 2019

Ah great initiation happening around in Florida. In Nepal our citrus groves are in the state of exhaustion. But no one giving a priority to react. https://thehimalayantimes.com/opinion/citrus-greening-nepals-groves-under-threat/

James Massey
April 13, 2019

A very accomplished career. A gentle giant that will be greatly missed.

Charles and Bobbie Cottle
April 13, 2019

We didn’t know Dr. Calvert, but his son, Victor, came surely from the same mold. An honorable, hard-working man who contributes much to the lives of others. Blessings on the family, all of you. May the memories of Dr. Calvert encourage you to continue his lifestyle.

Madeline Durant
April 3, 2019

My condolences to the Calvert family and UF Ft Pierce..

Şahin ALAKUŞ
October 9, 2018

I had the chance to be Mr ÖZBUDAK's teacher at high school. I am proud of him. I am sure he will be successful on his research.

嫩模黑丝腿控性感兔女郎之吉他美女迷人写真(15p)
March 30, 2018

正在找这个,谢谢!

synonym
December 14, 2017

I’m not that much of a online readeг to be honeѕt but your sites really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back in the future. Cheers

panele szklane do łazienki łódź
December 8, 2017

Aw, thiѕ was an exceptionally nice ⲣost. Taking the time and actual effort to create a top notch article… but whɑt can I say… I put things off a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

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koestoyo

September 27, 2017

Congratulations Dr. He and Dr. Wright

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