Towards an explainable irrigation scheduling approach by predicting soil moisture and evapotranspiration via multi-target regression

Document Type


Source of Publication

Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Smart Environments

Publication Date



Significant population growth and ongoing socioeconomic development have increased reliance on irrigated agriculture and agricultural intensification. However, accurately predicting crop water demand is problematic since it is affected by several factors such as weather, soil, and water properties. Many studies have shown that a hybrid irrigation system based on two irrigation strategies (i.e., evapotranspiration and soil-based irrigation) can provide a credible and reliable irrigation system. The latter can also alert farmers and other experts to phenomena such as noise, erroneous sensor signals, numerous correlated input and target variables, and incomplete or missing data, especially when the two irrigation strategies produce inconsistent results. Hence, we propose Multi-Target soil moisture and evapotranspiration prediction (MTR-SMET) for estimating soil moisture and evapotranspiration. These predictions are then used to compute water needs based on Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and soil-based methods. Besides, we propose an explainable MTR-SMET (xMTR-SMET) that explains the ML-based irrigation to the farmers/users using several explainable AI to provide simple visual explanations for the given predictions. It is the first attempt that explains and offers meaningful insights into the output of a machine learning-based irrigation approach. The conducted experiments showed that the proposed MTR-SMET model achieves low error rates (i.e., MSE = 0.00015, RMSE = 0.0039, MAE = 0.002) and high R 2 score (i.e., 0.9676).




IOS Press

First Page


Last Page



Agriculture | Computer Sciences

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access