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USDA-ARS VRI SCADA management project named 2020 IA Vanguard Award recipient

FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA (July 7, 2020) — The Irrigation Association is excited to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service Sensor-Based VRI SCADA Management project has been named the recipient of the 2020 Vanguard Award. The IA’s Vanguard Award honors an innovative project in the irrigation industry executed by a team of individuals, companies, organizations or other group entities. Projects chosen for this award exemplify the IA’s mission of promoting efficient irrigation.

The USDA-ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit located in Bushland, Texas, developed and patented the Irrigation Scheduling Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (ISSCADA) system for sensor-based variable rate irrigation center pivot irrigation management. Through the sharing of this technology, sensor system development and testing, the USDA-ARS and its partners worked to develop a decision support system that could produce the time varying prescription maps needed by center pivot control panels. The final challenge of the project is to bring sensor subsystems and the ISSCADA system that integrates with a VRI center pivot to marketable products.

“The Vanguard Award not only recognizes projects that embody efficient irrigation but also the partnerships that made these projects successful,” said IA CEO Deborah Hamlin, CAE, FASAE. “Through Steve Evett’s and Susan O’Shaughnessy’s leadership, we see the true value that partnerships can bring to advancing and implementing efficient irrigation.”

The partners in this project include the USDA-ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit in Bushland, Texas (project lead); Beltsville, Texas, ARS team; Acclima Inc.; Dynamax Inc.; and Valley Irrigation. Through these partnerships, testing has shown that yield and crop water productivity could be improved using sensors to build prescription maps automatically, which limits the user’s time commitment while effectively managing the use of water and decreasing irrigation costs.

“The success of this project relied on the success of our public-private partnerships,” said ARS researchers Steven Evett, PhD, and Susan O’Shaughnessy, PhD. “We thank all of our partners, including various USDA-ARS laboratories, Valley Irrigation, Acclima Inc. and Dynamax Inc. It’s an honor to not only have worked with these companies but be recognized for our efforts with the IA’s Vanguard Award.”

Representatives involved in the Vanguard Award-winning project will be featured guests on an upcoming episode of the IA’s Bringing Water to Life podcast. More information about this and other IA awards and past recipients can be found at