Simulation-optimization based real-time irrigation scheduling: A human-machine interactive method enhanced by data assimilation

Xuemin Li, Jingwen Zhang, Ximing Cai, Zailin Huo, Chenglong Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Efficient irrigation scheduling is crucial for both improving crop production and saving irrigation water use in arid/semi-arid agricultural regions threatened by water shortage and soil salinity. However, irrigation scheduling optimization is hindered by the uncertainties of data and optimization model, and adopting the optimal irrigation scheduling is subject to farmers' acceptance. To effectively tackle these challenges, this paper presents a novel human-machine interactive framework for real-time irrigation scheduling (RIS). The developed modeling framework couples a simulation-optimization model, irrigation farmers, and a data assimilation procedure within the human-machine interactive framework for RIS. The proposed approach is capable of: 1) searching optimal irrigation scheduling through the simulation-optimization model; 2) making actual irrigation decisions based on farmers' experiences, knowledge, behaviors, or optimal solutions; and 3) updating soil water content based on the model simulations and real-time observations at each time period. The RIS is applied to a real-world case in a typical arid agricultural region of China. Based on the comparisons with historical irrigation records and a tradition simulation-optimization model, the proposed RIS can not only achieve higher economic benefit with less irrigation water allocation quotas, but also improve irrigation efficiency. This study contributes to the methodology by integrating computer model, real-time observations and farmers' experiences to optimization modeling framework for supporting sustainable irrigation water management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108059
JournalAgricultural Water Management
StatePublished - Feb 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Data assimilation
  • Human-machine interaction
  • Irrigation scheduling
  • Optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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