NEW RESEARCH SEEKS TO OPTIMIZE WATER USE FOR IRRIGATION
A NEW FONDECYT-FINANCED PROJECT WITH INTERDISCIPLINARY CONVERGENCE AND COLLABORATION FOR THE UNIVERSITY WAS APPROVED.
June 3, 2016
A new Fondecyt project, developed by the Irrigation Transfer and Agroclimatology Research Center (Citra, in Spanish) of our Academic Institution and led by its director, Samuel Ortega, aims at deepening the knowledge in order to optimize irrigation in the Maule territory.
This Technology Center, from the Department of Agricultural Sciences, is leading an innovative plan, in the world, to optimize the use of water, taking better advantage of this resource that is becoming increasingly scarce due to climate change.
In this context, the aforementioned initiative supported by Fondecyt, "is about estimating the consumption of water in a vineyard using thermal and multispectral images through an unmanned aerial vehicle, developed by Matt Bardeen, professor of Mechatronics Civil Engineering of our University", as explained by Professor Samuel Ortega.
At the same time, he talked about the convergence between academic programs taught at the University that favorably affects the development of a multidisciplinary project such as this. "It involves mechatronics, bioinformatics, digital physiology, mathematics, and agriculture ", he said.
In this regard, he noted that "the interesting thing about this technology is that they involve high resolution digital images that can measure the amount of watering a plant needs in a 6-by-6-centimeter square, so we can then estimate the vineyard direct between-rows transpiration and evaporation rate, allowing us to calculate how many liters of water a plant consumes during its developmental stage ".
According to Ortega, the main idea is to "use this in general agriculture, where it can cause a tremendous economical and social impact, because the use of this technology could be transferred to small farmers, so to reduce the application of water. If they lose this resource, they will lose production and their means of living ".
The academic also said that "to do this, we apply a mathematical algorithm developed at Citra, with a big emphasis in programming, because the air images sent by the drone must be processed by a computer program, to finally get the liters of water consumed".
The aforementioned project is inserted in the Adaptation of Agriculture to Climate Change Research Program, which also includes a cycle of lectures and seminars on topics related to this area.
In the last activity of this type, the academic from the Department of Agricultural Sciences of the Universidad de Talca, Patricio González spoke about the current climate scenario in the Maule Region, detailing the economic effects that could be generated in the zone.
As he indicated, the first symptoms started the year 2000. "A very important thermal change was noticed in the region, with temperatures consistently above 33 degrees Celsius, moreover we’ve had nearly nine years with low rainfall. At the current time we are living through the breakdown point and the transition will not be so slow, we will have little capacity to react, so the State must assume this commitment and generate strategies to mitigate it '.
He stressed that "it is important to know how Talca, an important city from the country's agricultural and commercial point of view, is also suffering the effects of climate change, which many times it is thought to happen in other countries, but we also have an analysis that shows the trends in the future and how we can mitigate it".
In addition to being a topic of interest to farmers and the community in general, Professor González said that this type of seminar is also a contribution to the students. "It is an update for them where they can also exchange views, generating a discussion about the studied subject," he said.
For his part, Roemil Jorquera, Project Manager at Citra, said that approximately 15 seminars are planned during the year.