Syngenta UK
Farminguk
25 September 2016 | Online since 2003
OvoConcept


19 August 2014 10:25:01 |

New satellite data will help farmers facing drought


About 60 percent of California is experiencing “exceptional drought,” the U.S. Drought Monitor’s most dire classification. The agency issued the same warning to Texas and the southeastern United States in 2012. California’s last two winters have been among the driest since records began in 1879. Without enough water in the soil, seeds can’t sprout roots, leaves can’t perform photosynthesis, and agriculture can’t be sustained.
Currently, there is no ground- or satellite-based global network monitoring soil moisture at a local level. Farmers, scientists and resource managers can place sensors in the ground, but these only provide spot measurements and are rare across some critical agricultural areas in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The European Space Agency’s Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity mission measures soil moisture at a resolution of 31 miles (50 kilometers), but because soil moisture can vary on a much smaller scale, its data are most useful in broad forecasts.
Enter NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite. The mission, scheduled to launch this winter, will collect the kind of local data agricultural and water managers worldwide need.
SMAP uses two microwave instruments to monitor the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil on Earth’s surface. Together, the instruments create soil moisture estimates with a resolution of about 6 miles (9 kilometers), mapping the entire globe every two or three days. Although this resolution cannot show how soil moisture might vary within a single field, it will give the most detailed maps yet made.
“Agricultural drought occurs when the demand for water for crop production exceeds available water supplies from precipitation, surface water and sustainable withdrawals from groundwater,” said Forrest Melton, a research scientist in the Ecological Forecasting Lab at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
“Based on snowpack and precipitation data in California, by March we had a pretty good idea that by summer we’d be in a severe agricultural drought,” Melton added. “But irrigation in parts of India, the Middle East and other regions relies heavily on the pumping of ground water during some or all of the year.” Underground water resources are hard to estimate, so farmers who rely on ground water have fewer indicators of approaching shortfalls than those whose irrigation comes partially from rain or snowmelt. For these parts of the world where farmers have little data available to help them understand current conditions, SMAP's measurements could fill a significant void.
Some farmers handle drought by changing irrigation patterns. Others delay planting or harvesting to give plants their best shot at success. Currently, schedule modifications are based mostly on growers’ observations and experience. SMAP’s data will provide an objective assessment of soil moisture to help with their management strategy.
“If farmers of rain-fed crops know soil moisture, they can schedule their planting to maximize crop yield,” said Narendra Das, a water and carbon cycle scientist on SMAP’s science team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “SMAP can assist in predicting how dramatic drought will be, and then its data can help farmers plan their recovery from drought.”
“Scientists see tremendous potential in SMAP,” Melton said. “It is not going to provide field-level information, but it will give very useful new regional observations of soil moisture conditions, which will be important for drought monitoring and a wide range of applications related to agriculture. Having the ability provided by SMAP to continuously map soil moisture conditions over large areas will be a major advance.”

Download

0 Comment

loginuserlogo
Name

Please enter your name


Email

Please enter your email

Please enter valid email


Comment

Please enter your comment


Post Comment

Your comment has been submitted successfully. Please wait for admin approval.


Comments

No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment


Ireland | 23 September 2016
Farmers who left safety net of EU subsidies to make fortune

Irish farmers have proved that they don't need subsidies from the EU to be massively successful in their chosen profession. Some have chosen to leave the payment safety net behind and seek their fortu...


China | 23 September 2016
China lays groundwork to be major producer of GMO crops

China has a fifth of the world’s population, but only about 7 percent of its arable land. Farming plus safe and healthy foods are national obsessions. So it came as no surprise that government-own...


USA | 23 September 2016
Drought grips parts of South, parches ground, withers crops

Extreme drought conditions are persisting in parts of Alabama and Georgia, wilting crops and raising the specter of wildfires. Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor, a weekly report that tracks drought c...


China | 23 September 2016
China to reopen beef market to American producers after 13 years

American beef producers are expected get access to China for the first time in 13 years, raising the possibility that the U.S. could recapture lost market share in one of the fastest-growing global ma...


Australia | 23 September 2016
Greener pastures: the dairy farmers committed to sustainability

It was a soil bacteria course in New Zealand that convinced Reggie Davis to change his farming methods. The fourth-generation Victorian dairy farmer had become increasingly concerned by the costs, ...



Trending Now

Viewed
Discussed


Top stories you may have missed
FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A herd of rare White Park cattle could die out if its owners do not urgentl...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The UK government is "failing" to support farmers in the long-term accordin...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Retailer Co-op has announced that from May 2017 all of its bacon and lamb w...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Over 50 wildlife organisations have compiled a stock-take of all the UK's n...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

In the run up to the EU farm ministers meeting the agricultural sector have...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The RPA must iron out a number of problems that still exist with 2015 BPS p...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Tourism businesses in the countryside are being held back due to the uncert...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A 24 point action plan aimed at revitalising Scotland's sheep sector after ...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A new survey has revealed that the vast majority of British consumers belie...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The British public are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping or strengthening...


closeicon
Username
Password