Irrigation Scheduling Tool Available For Delaware Farmers

Kevin Brinson, Associate State Climatologist and DEOS Director;

Since 2011, the Delaware Irrigation Management System (DIMS) has been available to Delaware farmers to help manage their daily irrigation scheduling needs for a number of different crops, including: corn, soybean, cantaloupes, sweet peas, lima beans, watermelons, sweet corn, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Using input from UD Extension staff, as well as several growers and consultants, DIMS is designed to be easy to use and require as little information about the field as possible to get started. To create a field, a user only needs to provide a field name, crop type, emergence date, and location using either the tool’s map or by entering the latitude and longitude of the field. From there, the system handles of all the daily calculations of soil water content required to maintain adequate soil moisture for crops.

DIMS eliminates the need to input daily weather data or look up soil information in order to run an irrigation scheduler. Using daily weather data from the nearest Delaware Environmental Observing System ( weather stations, DIMS calculates daily reference evapotranspiration and rainfall for each field. For soil information, DIMS automatically determines the dominant soil texture using USDA soils data, however, users can adjust their soil type if they know their soil has more or less water holding capacity than what is automatically chosen for the field. The only other data needed is the amount of daily irrigation applied to each field, which is provided by the user after each irrigation application. The system also allows advanced settings to be tweaked or changed, such as growing season length, crop stage dates, soil, and crop water management requirements.

DIMS was originally funded by USDA NRCS to provide a Delaware specific, “ET-based” irrigation management tool in support of NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Thus, crop water demand and irrigation data from DIMS can be printed or exported into a program like Microsoft Excel for each field to satisfy this element of EQIP’s reporting requirements for anyone participating in that program.

For more information about DIMS, go to If you’re interested in using DIMS, send an e-mail to me at with DIMS somewhere in the subject line. From there, I’ll send an e-mail containing login information as well as a few instructions on how to get started. The system is free to use and our center (the Center for Environmental Monitoring and Analysis – will provide any help necessary to get new users and their farm fields up and running in the system.

DIMS Field Status Map. Markers color depicts status of soil moisture conditions in each field.

DIMS Field Status Chart. Displays growing season crop soil water content relative to field capacity, permanent wilting point, and managed allowable depletion level. The chart also displays rainfall and irrigation events.