05 March 2015 | Online since 2003



19 August 2014|Arable,Cereal,Crops,News

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 groundwater during some or all of the year.” Underground water resources are hard to estimate, so farmers who rely on groundwater 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



Comments


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

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


16 February 2015
Automation Engineer
GEA Process Engineering, based in Warrington, are a global leader in the provision of hygienic process equipment and turnkey ...

1 March 2015
Van Sales Rep / Delivery Sales Advisor / Account Manger
Van Driver, Milk Man, Delivery Driver, Milk Woman, Van Driver Sales, VSR, Sales Rep, Sales Representative, Van Sales Rep, Gro...

2 March 2015
Apprentice Adimistrator
Bell Farm Road. No weekends or evenings necessary. The successful applicant will be involved with the following duties:....

3 March 2015
Farm accounts / Data input
Duties: * Maintains accounts system by inputting invoices on Farmplan accounting software. * Prevents erroneous entries by in...

28 February 2015
3rd Line Engineer - Birmingham - SAN - £35-45K
3rd Line Engineer - Birmingham - Exchange - £35-45K Keywords: Windows Server 2003/08/2012 - Active Directory - Group Policy -...




Top stories you may have missed
2 February 2015 | Arable
Is EU membership damaging UK farming?

Is EU membership damaging UK farming?

Membership of the EU is damaging the British farming industry, according to...


29 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
Drones 'rapidly changing' agriculture

Drones 'rapidly changing' agriculture

BASIS has launched an accreditation for pilots of Unmanned Aerial Systems (...


23 January 2015 | Arable
UK wheat yields have potential to double

UK wheat yields have potential to double

UK wheat yields have theoretical potential to more than double over the nex...


23 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
Crowds flock to LAMMA 2015

Crowds flock to LAMMA 2015

Britain’s farmers flocked to Peterborough for the first day of LAMMA’15 to ...


22 January 2015 | Cattle
Don't blame supermarkets for milk crisis...

Don't blame supermarkets for milk crisis...

The crisis in the dairy industry is not the fault of supermarkets, accordin...


16 January 2015 | CLA
Families affected by HS2 face 'major wor...

Families affected by HS2 face 'major wor...

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer visited three rural businesses in Cheshi...


16 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
John Deere unveil new 6R tractor range

John Deere unveil new 6R tractor range

Spearheading the John Deere range of mid-size tractors from Mannheim, the n...


14 January 2015 | Animal Health
Monthly TB checks more effective than ba...

Monthly TB checks more effective than ba...

Regular testing for bovine TB could significantly reduce the number of infe...


12 January 2015 | News
Government regulations hampering UK agri...

Government regulations hampering UK agri...

Single-issue policy-making threatens to hamper, not help, the progress of U...


8 January 2015 | Cattle
2015: The year ahead for the beef market

2015: The year ahead for the beef market

2014 has been a “rocky old year” for the beef industry but better prices ar...