A Receding Horizon Control algorithm for adaptive management of soil moisture and chemical levels during irrigation

Yeonjeong Park*, Jeff S. Shamma, Thomas C. Harmon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The capacity to adaptively manage irrigation and associated contaminant transport is desirable from the perspectives of water conservation, groundwater quality protection, and other concerns. This paper introduces the application of a feedback-control strategy known as Receding Horizon Control (RHC) to the problem of irrigation management. The RHC method incorporates sensor measurements, predictive models, and optimization algorithms to maintain soil moisture at certain levels or prevent contaminant propagation beyond desirable thresholds. Theoretical test cases are first presented to examine the RHC scheme performance for the control of soil moisture and nitrate levels in a soil irrigation problem. Then, soil moisture control is successfully demonstrated for a center-pivot system in Palmdale, CA where reclaimed water is used for agricultural irrigation. Real-time soil moisture, temperature, and meteorological data were streamed wirelessly to a field computer to enable autonomous execution of the RHC algorithm. The RHC scheme is demonstrated to be a viable strategy for achieving water reuse and agricultural objectives while minimizing negative impacts on environmental quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1112-1121
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Modelling and Software
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of UCLA's Center for Embedded Networked Sensing under cooperative agreement #CCR-0120778 with the National Science Foundation, and the staff support and access to the Palmdale experimental irrigation site granted by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. We also thank Drs. Juyoul Kim and Steve Margulis for their MATLAB™ codes of process simulation models, and Drs. Alexander Rat'ko and Jose Saez for their assistance at the Palmdale site.


  • Feedback control
  • Groundwater monitoring
  • Irrigation scheduling
  • Nitrate control
  • Real-time adaptive management
  • Receding Horizon Control
  • Reclaimed water use
  • Sensor network
  • Soil moisture control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling


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