New smartphone app to monitor agricultural water use
Researchers have developed a new smartphone app that will allow farmers and experts in US to monitor water requirements of agricultural fields by...
Researchers have developed a new smartphone app that will allow farmers and experts in US to monitor water requirements of agricultural fields by producing digital maps of water consumption.
Scientists at the University of Nebraska, Google and the University of Idaho in US, introduced the latest evolution of METRIC technology—an application called EEFLUX, which will allow anyone in the world to produce field-scale maps of water consumption.
METRIC processes satellite images to make digital maps, and is currently being used by water managers in 15 states in US to track agricultural water use. EEFLUX will put this information directly into the hands of farmers by allowing them to check water-use maps in near real-time on any mobile device that has web access.
"The use of satellite imagery provides the means to monitor the agricultural water consumption over every square foot of land surface," said Ayse Kilic, a professor at the University of Nebraska.
That imagery comes from the Landsat satellites, whose thermal band data allows water specialists to measure the amount of water evaporating from the soil and transpiring from a plant's leaves - a process called evapotranspiration (ET).
This process cools the plant down, so irrigated farm fields appear cooler (bluer) in infrared satellite images. The spatial resolution of Landsat's thermal imagery, combined with the Landsat data for other spectral bands, allows experts and farmers alike to see water consumption for individual fields.
"With Landsat 7, the Landsat user community began to see the importance of thermal infrared data for water management," said Jeffrey Masek, Chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre. "So in 2009 the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) was added to the Landsat-8 mission payload," said Masek.
Water managers can track the effectiveness of various water conservation projects with METRIC because it provides a new level of detail—from field to field, crop to crop, and year to year.
Also, Landsat satellites have collected thermal data since 1984 so that water consumption under existing conservation practices can be compared with that occurring more than 30 years ago.