SureMap project: 1st Technical visit in Palermo, Italy (October 2022)

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The importance of innovation and smart irrigation systems and technologies to cope with limited water resources was discussed during the 1st technical visit within the frame of the SureMap Project WP3 organized on October 11, 2022, at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forest Sciences of the University of Palermo, Italy. ( )

The participants visited the experimental layout in a citrus orchard (Citrus reticulata Blanco, cv. Mandarino Tardivo di Ciaculli) located on the coastal plain of #Palermo named “Golden Shell”, which is extended between the Tyrrhenian sea and the encircling mountains surrounding the city, in a fertile agricultural area which, however, has shrunk as a result of large urbanization.

The research, carried out in cooperation with Irritec Corporate Italy, started in 2017 to assess the reductions of crop water requirements achievable with subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems when compared with the traditional micro-sprinkler (TI) systems ordinarily used in the area, as well as to test new emitter models allowing to cope with the problem of root intrusion, which could occur when distribution pipes are installed below the soil surface.

The experimental activities also aimed at evaluating the performance of different water-saving strategies, such as regulated deficit irrigation (RDI), and the potential reductions of irrigation volumes that do not affect crop yield. The application of such strategies needs the monitoring of soil and crop water status to avoid the occurrence of severe and irreversible water stress. At this aim, the field was equipped, among others, with a weather station and an Eddy Covariance tower to monitor the standard climate variables and the actual evapotranspiration in the field, as well as a network of wireless sensors including Sentek “drill and drop” sensors with the associated telemetry provided by Agrinet (, to measure soil water content, Florapulse sensors (, to monitor stem water potential at the level of the tree trunk, and Treetoscope sensors (, to evaluate the sap fluxes, directly related to the plant’s water consumption.

Further investigations to assess the performance of water and energy balance models, as well as the potentials of proximal and remote sensing for irrigation water management are also included in the study.

The carried activities evidenced that the SDI system, compared with the TI, allows consistent water reductions, seasonally quantified in about 20% of crop water requirement. Moreover, beyond the scope of the comparison among the features of the different sensors installed in the field and the models’ validation purposes, the application of deficit irrigation associated with the continuous monitoring of the atmospheric forcing and soil and crop water status allowed a further 10-15% reduction of crop water requirement, without affecting the productive results.

The following technical visit to the Irritec factory (, of Rocca di Capri Leone, in the province of #Messina, allowed the participants to know the production chain of some materials used in micro-irrigation systems and discuss the innovations proposed by the company, with the motto “Don’t wait for rain”, to make more sustainable the agricultural production systems.

Also with – Technical University of Madrid, RWTH Aachen University, CITY College, University of York Europe Campus, The American University in Cairo, Heliopolis University, Alexandria University, Aswan University.

#smartirrigation #IOT #sensors #watersaving #irrigationsystems #sustainability #engineering #training #project #civilengineering #sustainable #aridareas #desert #hydroponic #food #agriculture #citrus #Palermo #GoldenShell #sustainability #sustainability #SureMap


Links to scientific articles:

Ippolito, M., De Caro, D., Ciraolo, G. et al. Estimating crop coefficients and actual evapotranspiration in citrus orchards with sporadic cover weeds based on ground and remote sensing data. Irrig Sci (2022).

Segovia-Cardozo, D.A., Franco, L., Provenzano, G. 2022. Detecting crop water requirement indicators in irrigated agroecosystems from soil water content profiles: An application for a citrus orchard. Science of the Total Environment, 2022, 806, 150492.

L. Franco, G. Giardina, J. Tuker, A. Motisi, G. Provenzano 2022. Subsurface drip irrigation and ICT for the innovative irrigation water management: application to a citrus crop (C. reticulata ‘Tardivo di Ciaculli’) – ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1335: IX International Symposium on Irrigation of Horticultural Crops.

Franco, L., Motisi, A., Provenzano, G. 2021. Agro-hydrological models and field measurements to assess the water status of a citrus orchard irrigated with micro-sprinkler and subsurface drip systems. Acta Horticulturae, 1314, pp. 75-82.

Puig-Sirera, À., Provenzano, G., González-Altozano, P., Intrigliolo, D.S., Rallo, G. 2021. Irrigation water saving strategies in Citrus orchards: Analysis of the combined effects of timing and severity of soil water deficit. Agricultural Water Management, 248, art. no. 106773.


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