Fresh water supply shortages are increasingly common in the Southeast US. The growing population in this region has been suggested as a key component contributing to this water stress as well as climate variability and change. A 2010 report indicated that by 2050 much of Florida is projected to be at ‘high’ to ‘extreme’ risk of water shortage while water shortage in Georgia is projected to range from ‘moderate’ to ‘extreme’ (Spencer and Altman, 2010). Irrigation has been shown to be a substantial user of fresh water supplies in the Southeast – both for agriculture and urban applications. Thus, irrigation provides one source of potential water savings if irrigation practices can be improved. With the growing price of fuel and potential restrictions on irrigation water, these apps will also be useful for increased sustainability by providing at-your-fingertips knowledge for improved irrigation (and water conservation) and potential financial savings through lower fuel costs (less pump time).
We will develop models that require minimum input using real-time weather data to improve irrigation practices in citrus, cotton, strawberry, and urban lawn environments. These simple models will be converted into a Smartphone app to be used quickly and efficiently by stakeholders. The apps will include both real-time and forecasting components. Stakeholders will test the apps and further modifications will be made as needed to improve their performance before publicly released. We will also conduct train-the-trainer and train-the-stakeholder workshops to further disseminate these products. Our initial goal is to reach Florida and Georgia irrigators with future efforts expanding further into the Southeast region. All efforts will be coordinated through the Southeast Climate Consortium and linked with AgroClimate and the Florida Automated Weather Network.