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Production Objectives

Newly established trees at Raemelton Farm.

Four Decagon wireless sensor networks of varying size and complexity are deployed at Raemelton Farm, a commercial tree nursery near Adamstown, MD.  Currently, there are 50 acres of trees under production (2010).  The entire farm is on drip irrigation; each block is controlled by solenoid, timed by a central programmable irrigation scheduler in the pumphouse.

The primary objectives of these networks are to:

  1. Evaluate the performance of these sensors and the capability and stability of the system to provide real-time data to the owner, Mr. Steve Black, to make more precise daily irrigation decisions.

Since the farm is currently limited by water supply (72 gal per minute from two wells), it is imperative that this information is provided on a daily basis.  This water supply equals 2034 gal water / acre per day for the farm if the pumps run 24 hours per day.  At an average of 500 trees per acre, this water supply equates to a little more than 4 gals water /day / tree.

  1. The ultimate objectives of this research are to determine whether these management systems are cost-effective in reducing input costs (including labor), and whether they improve water and nutrient application efficiency and minimize the environmental effects of production practices. 
  1. Additionally, Steve Black would like to explore extending the life of the tree inventory on the farm, by optimizing initial growth rates, and at the appropriate time, to minimize water and nutrient inputs to slow tree growth and extend the “marketing window” of saleable trees.