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Irrigated cotton fields in arid Israel and Texas may one day be watered automatically based on plant temperature.

Steven R. Evett, an Agricultural Research Service soil scientist based at the ARS Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland, Texas, and colleagues are working with the Israelis on infrared field thermometer sensors to take leaf temperatures from a short distance. They are designing computer programs that can automatically translate temperature readings into on/off irrigation decisions to get the most “crop per drop” of water.

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