USDA-Agricultural Research Service scientists are developing a system that saves water by using aerial imagery and ground-based sensors to determine the irrigation needs of small sections of cultivated fields.

The goal is to combine one remote sensing aerial image of a field with a system of wireless sensors tied to computer software that will accurately determine the irrigation needs of small areas on a daily basis throughout the season. Ideally, farmers could identify areas with high or low water needs with data transmitted to their computers and, using either a drip or a sprinkler system, adjust irrigation levels based on the data.