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A field being irrigated

Water supplies are extremely critical to many parts of the United States, especially in California and the Southwest. Precipitation in California, for instance, is highly variable from year to year and also geographically variable within the State. The State's Southeastern deserts receive less than 5 inches of precipitation a year while its north coast gets 100 inches.

ARS scientists have saved millions of gallons of water on farms in California and in other dry States by developing an automated irrigation scheduling system that targets water to where and when it is needed most.

The technology monitors soil and crop conditions and records rainfall levels so that it can time irrigation with a sophisticated variable-rate center-pivot irrigation system. The technology is the first of its kind for center-pivot irrigation systems, which are used on more than 50 percent of the Nation's irrigated croplands.