Irrigation scheduling

The NIAB CUF irrigation scheduling scheme is an accurate and well-proven modelling system which has been run as a successful commercial service in the UK, mainland Europe and the USA on 9,000 fields since 1990.

It allows growers to collect simple crop and water measurements which are translated into irrigation scheduling advice for potato and other crops. The system is designed to provide real-time irrigation scheduling advice based on proven research and commercial practicality. Together with Potato Yield Model, the Irrigation Scheduling Model won the Oxford Farming Conference and Royal Agricultural Society of England practice with science award in January 2014.

How it works

After registration, growers supply key data about their crops. These are used to set up the irrigation model (e.g. level of scab control, duration and rate of root growth, soil type and depth). From emergence, growers send in (weekly) spreadsheet data on ground cover, rainfall and irrigation. A water balance model based on soil type and depth, rooting distribution and daily evaporative demand from local weather stations is then used to calculate the soil moisture deficit (SMD), irrigation start date, interval to the subsequent irrigation and how long to delay irrigation following rainfall. These data are sent back to growers on the same day that data are received. The model has been parameterised and validated to work in hot, arid environments and can therefore be used worldwide. Various types of output are available to suit customers’ requirements.

Next steps

Contact irrigation [at] (Dr Simon Smart) for more information, email or phone 01223 342245


"Having used the NIAB CUF irrigation scheduling scheme from its inception and lived with the development and refinement of the scheme over the last 20 years we can vouch for its robustness and no fuss methodology for managing an increasingly expensive and precious resource."
Tony Bambridge, Managing Director, B & C Farming Ltd

"Having the discipline to record daily rainfall and irrigation and visit each crop to measure emergence and canopy cover, combined with the expected daily water use provided by the CUF model, gives us a really good steer on where we need to prioritise watering in our overall irrigation plan made up of many different sites. It also allows us to make historical comparisons between seasons."
Philip Kingsmill, Director, Greenseed International Ltd

"We have been using the NIAB CUF irrigation scheduling on our potato crop destined for McCain for a number of years. It is helping us to more accurately monitor SMDs and make the best use of water as an increasingly expensive resource. As a result we have become more efficient and can make more decisions based on the relevant data for our situation and not guesswork."
James Durdy, FJ Durdy & Co