Improving Agricultural Water Resources Management Using Ground-based Infrared Thermometry
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Irrigated agriculture is the largest user of freshwater resources in arid/semi-arid parts of the world. Meeting rapidly growing demands in food, feed, fiber, and fuel while minimizing environmental pollution under a changing climate requires significant improvements in agricultural water management and irrigation scheduling. Although recent advances in remote sensing techniques and hydrological modeling has provided valuable information on agricultural water resources and their management, real improvements will only occur if farmers, the decision makers on the ground, are provided with simple, affordable, and practical tools to schedule irrigation events. This presentation reviews efforts in developing methods based on ground-based infrared thermometry and thermography for day-to-day management of irrigation systems. The results of research studies conducted in Colorado and Oklahoma show that ground-based remote sensing methods can be used effectively in quantifying water stress and consequently triggering irrigation events. Crop water use estimates based on stress indices have also showed to be in good agreement with estimates based on other methods (e.g. surface energy balance, root zone soil water balance, etc.). Major challenges toward the adoption of this approach by agricultural producers include the reduced accuracy under cloudy and humid conditions and its inability to forecast irrigation date, which is a critical knowledge since many irrigators need to decide about irrigations a few days in advance.