Irrigation is the predominant water consumer globally, accounting for 70% of the total consumption and therefore constitutes a significant environmental challenge. In addition, the combined application of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) along with the Cross Compliance Scheme (CCS) of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) introduces the principle “the user pays” in irrigation water management. The most significant expected impacts are a substantial increase of the of the net irrigation water price, leading to an increasing effect of agricultural costs, affecting the choice of cultivation, irrigation method and system.
In the light of the real need to practically improve the environmental performance of irrigation systems and prevent the misuse of water, ENORASIS project developed an intelligent irrigation Decision Support System (ENORASIS Service Platform and Components) for environmentally optimized and thus sustainable irrigation management for farmers and water management organizations. ENORASIS is a server-based system that gathers data from satellite observations and field equipment (wireless sensor networks), uses the next-generation weather prediction model WRF to provide high spatial accuracy estimations for precipitation and combines all this information with specific crop characteristics (using FAO56 model) to produce daily optimal irrigation advice that is communicated to farmers via web or mobile. In other words, it helps to monitor water use and irrigate only where and when it is needed and only for as long as needed. It integrates the latest advances in the fields of:
- Weather prediction systems that exploit satellite observations,
- Irrigation optimization techniques,
- Wireless sensor networks applied in crops.
Accordingly, farmers may use this real-time information to schedule irrigation activities also in interaction with other cultivation tasks and monitor water consumption both in terms of quantity and cost. Water Management Authorities may use water consumption monitoring data to estimate short and long term pressures on water reservoirs, set water prices as drivers for sustainable irrigation and apply pricing schemes that incorporate the real costs of water (in accordance with WFD).
The ENORASIS Service Platform
The main scientific and technical result of ENORASIS was the development of ENORASIS platform and components (Meteo Analysis Tool, WSN, DSS algorithm) interfaces with charging/ billing systems, and the relative subsystems and functionalities. Web and mobile ENORASIS users’ interfaces and GIS application of ENORASIS were prepared, with a layout that is friendly, easy to use and targeted to end-users’ needs. ENORASIS system has been tested for 2 cultivation periods in 5 pilot implementations covering 9 different crops, 4 different climatic conditions and 2 operational approaches. ENORASIS Pilot in Serbia was implemented at the Delta Agrar orchard farm Podunavlje in Čelarevo, under the responsibility of ENORASIS partners Public Water Management Company of Vode Vojvodina and BioSense Institute. At Podunavlje farm, ENORASIS was supposed to achieve higher yields, savings in water and electricity, but also to compare the company’s exisbut also to compare the performance of ENORASIS to the performance of the company’s existing irrigation decision support system.