Case Study


real-time modeling for Minnesota’s irrigators

The growth of irrigation in Minnesota

From 2002 to 2017, irrigation expanded by 33% in the State of Minnesota according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The use of ground water for irrigation continues to expand because growers see it as a way to protect crop productivity under increasingly variable weather patterns. Growers want to expand irrigation sustainably, preserving ground water resources for future generations, and doing so requires careful management of the underlying resource.

Sensors, data, and modeling for irrigation scheduling

The Irrigation Management Assistant provides a way for irrigators to increase their irrigation use efficiency by recommending how much irrigation to schedule when. Such tools require integrating diverse datasets from real-time sensors to soils and climate data and real-time soil water balance modeling. RESPEC is able to expand the tool more easily because of the integrated infrastructure provided by GEMS Exchange and GEMS Sensing.


Since 2021, RESPEC and the GEMS Informatics Center at the University of Minnesota have worked to complete a new architecture for the IMA tool. The architecture continues to preserve irrigators privacy while allowing for enhanced data and modeling to flow from the University to RESPEC’s servers hosting the IMA tool.


The ENRTF Funded Project will:

  1. expand the geographic coverage of the IMA tool to the ~67 agriculturally dominated counties in Minnesota,
  2. expand and improve the input data and crop models of the IMA tool so it is more useful for farmers,
  3. increase tool adoption by engaging farmers, Soil and Water Conservation Districts staff, and crop consultants through extension and outreach.