Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Mac McKee


Mac McKee


Gilberto Urroz


Adele Cutler


Christopher M. U. Neale


Kashif Gill


Wynn R. Walker


Increasing population and water conflicts are making water management one of the most important issues of the present world. It has become absolutely necessary to find ways to manage water more efficiently. Technological advancement has introduced various techniques for data acquisition and analysis, and these tools can be used to address some of the critical issues that challenge water resource management. This research used learning machine techniques and information acquired through remote sensing, to solve problems related to soil moisture estimation and crop identification on large spatial scales. In this dissertation, solutions were proposed in three problem areas that can be important in the decision making process related to water management in irrigated systems. A data assimilation technique was used to build a learning machine model that generated soil moisture estimates commensurate with the scale of the data. The research was taken further by developing a multivariate machine learning algorithm to predict root zone soil moisture both in space and time. Further, a model was developed for supervised classification of multi-spectral reflectance data using a multi-class machine learning algorithm. The procedure was designed for classifying crops but the model is data dependent and can be used with other datasets and hence can be applied to other landcover classification problems. The dissertation compared the performance of relevance vector and the support vector machines in estimating soil moisture. A multivariate relevance vector machine algorithm was tested in the spatio-temporal prediction of soil moisture, and the multi-class relevance vector machine model was used for classifying different crop types. It was concluded that the classification scheme may uncover important data patterns contributing greatly to knowledge bases, and to scientific and medical research. The results for the soil moisture models would give a rough idea to farmers/irrigators about the moisture status of their fields and also about the productivity. The models are part of the framework which is devised in an attempt to provide tools to support irrigation system operational decisions. This information could help in the overall improvement of agricultural water management practices for large irrigation systems. Conclusions were reached based on the performance of these machines in estimating soil moisture using remotely sensed data, forecasting spatial and temporal variation of soil moisture and data classification. These solutions provide a new perspective to problem–solving techniques by introducing new methods that have never been previously attempted.