Biological Systems Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 8-2014

Document Type



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineering, Under the Supervision of Professor Joe D. Luck. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2015

Copyright (c) 2015 Keith A. Miller


Increasing concern for sustainable water use has the agriculture industry working toward higher efficiency use of irrigation water. The average irrigation water use efficiency throughout the United States is 45%, which is extremely poor. Advancements in crop management have continued to allow producers to know more about the conditions in their field from nutrient management and pest control, to understanding yield spatially.

Recent mechanical advancements have improved the capabilities of center pivot irrigation systems to water various depths throughout the field. This technology is known as variable rate irrigation (VRI). With VRI comes a whole new strategy for irrigation. Advancements in remote and mobile sensing have played a major role in collecting data spatially throughout a field in order to aid in the management of VRI.

The goal of this study was to provide a method for potential VRI technology adopters to evaluate potential water savings using datasets collected with varying levels of complexity. The proposed method was based on estimating root zone water holding capacity (RZWHC) spatially across two case study fields and treating each with URI and both sector and zone-controlled VRI.

Advisor: Joe D. Luck