Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup), spicy green papaya salad, and Pad Thai (Thai fried noodles), all these signature Thai foods have successfully conquered billions of peoples’ stomachs. Thanks to dynamic farmers, fertile lands, rich species, and fantastic food culture, we can have a good Thai meal almost everywhere around the world today. In the near future, we also need to thank geospatial technology for providing convenient tools to irrigate the crops. In the following case study, we will show you how agriculture in Thailand benefits from GIS irrigation solution.

Missions of Royal Irrigation Department

Royal Irrigation Department (RID) of Thailand is the biggest government agency for water resources management as agriculture still plays an important role in this industrializing country. Unlike most of the other nations regarding water management as a routine for agricultural irrigation only, RID is also authorized by Thai central government to establish Smart Water Operation Center to prevent the world’s main rice producing country from serious flood destruction again.

Therefore, RID, the primary water management agency in Thai government, had long been proactive about finding a reliable tool suitable for their needs. Hence, SuperGIS Irrigation Solution finally became the ideal choice for RID. To manage agricultural water, one of the main tasks is ensuring each paddy can get sufficient water. Accordingly, the station staff should update the field status every week to let the headquarters know how much water should be distributed to each land parcel.

Challenge: Born this Way – Every Field is Unique

The year-round warm weather makes the cultivation in Thailand never stops, but it also leads to another management issue – the starting date of sowing varies from field to field. One may just start sowing, while the neighboring field is ready for harvest. Each type of crops has its distinct growing curve, and the water requirement may also vary in different growing stages, too. For example, there are six stages for rice growing with different amounts of water needed in each stage, but for mangos, there are only four stages in a planting cycle. The difference among crops types and their growing stages has made water management even more complex. Although RID has invested in expensive GIS software for years, this task couldn’t be done more efficiently.

Solution: Irrigation with GIS, a Global Demand

Taiwan Agricultural Engineering Research Center (AERC) and Taiwan Agricultural Irrigation Association (TAIA) are two long-term partners of RID that truly understand the difficulty since it’s also the crux that has bothered the Taiwanese authorities for a long time. The experts from AERC and TAIA already know the algorithm but need a better way to implement it on GIS software. Here comes the integrated solution brought by Supergeo Technologies Inc, one of the main GIS software developers in the world. There are two main tasks that the RID analysts want to do. The first one is to calculation and presents the result on the digital map for the easy sharing purpose. The second is attaining an easy-to-use tool to update the field status that can replace manual paper records on the wall. Therefore, AERC, TAIA, and Supergeo collaborated closely to integrate each one’s strength to finish the GIS irrigation solution.

Fig. 1 Irrigation departments around the world are looking for cost-effective yet practical tools for their routine managing work. Here shows the water requirement calculation result by SuperGIS Irrigation Analyst
Solution: Watering Lands by SuperGIS

To solve the difficulty, Supergeo provided its SuperGIS Desktop and developed a brand new analyst extension, SuperGIS Irrigation Analyst. The extension is designed to calculate water requirement based on planting date, crops type, temperature data, and the most important one – paddies data saved in SHP. SuperGIS Irrigation Analyst includes the water requirement index of common crops, called Kc Values. Users are also allowed to define values by themselves according to different environmental conditions. RID analysts only need to launch SuperGIS Irrigation Analyst and input data, and the water requirement of each paddy can be calculated easily within few clicks. Also, the calculation results can be displayed on the map with graduated colors or as a table only.

Preparation of data

    • land data (.SHP or .GEO)
    • regional weather data (max, min & average temperature and radiation)
    • Kc value of crops (support .CRO file from FAO Cropwat, or user self-define)
IA interface Kc Rice
Fig. 2 Six growing stages of rice with different amounts of water requirement.
Kc Values (water requirement index of crop) can be defined by users in SuperGIS Irrigation Analyst
Fig. 3 There are only four growing stages for mango. Users can also import, export and define crop Kc Values.
Fig. 4 Interface of SuperGIS Irrigation Analyst. Import existing SHP, and then assign value field and weather data to complete complex water calculation within few clicks.

After estimating water requirement, RID analysts can publish the result through SuperGIS Server so that the directors, officers, and staff in the working stations can check land info by internet browsers, like IE, Chrome, or Firefox.

Fig. 5 Authorized users can use web browser or mobile devices to check land info and make measurement on the map with ease.
Solution: Less Sun Exposure for First Line Surveyors

The implementation of SuperGIS Irrigation Solution also means a smoother and lighter workload for working station staff in the first line.

Previously, they had to check the latest crops growing status, record it on papers, bring them back to the working station, write down the survey result on the wall, and key in the result field by field on computers to inform the RID’s headquarters. It took at least 1-2 working days to update the land status every week.

Now, with the GIS app SuperSurv 10 for Android, workers can simply install it on their phones or tablets, and import existing SHP file. When they go outside to the fields, they can locate their current position on SuperSurv 10 by the GPS signal from their devices even without internet connection. Staff can query and measure the paddy in front of them. Furthermore, they are also able to add new ones as SHP, edit its border, move its position, add new vertex as well as manage the content of tables, such as landowner, land ID, crops type, growing status, reporter, special situation, or any other self-defined info.

With SuperSurv 10, the first-line workers neither have to make an inspection tour of all their administrative areas nor do they have to tolerate long time exposure to the scorching sun and humid weather. They can shorten the survey process from 1-2 days per week to half a day or less. Also, the data input process is simplified by importing data via cable or cloud service like Google Drive and Dropbox in real time. RID headquarters is planning to open part of their land data to authorized staff. They would be able to view the data by using browsers on mobile phones or use SuperSurv for advanced editing.

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Fig. 6 Screenshots of SuperSurv 10 for Android. Users can use Google Maps or raster data as basemap and overlay SHP for query or editing.

Fluid GIS Workflow, Yummy Thai Dishes

Since Royal Irrigation Department upgraded their GIS with SuperGIS Irrigation Solution, not only the processing time of data and purchase cost are greatly saved, but also the water resources can be managed accurately and precisely. Thanks to a better solution provided by the tool considering the spatial factors for water resources allocation. Most importantly, making sure all rice and crops in Thailand are well-irrigated will guarantee people in every corner of the world can enjoy the delicious Thai dishes.

Software & Apps Used in This Case

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