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Remote sensing and GIS for estimation of irrigation crop water demand

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Satellite images supported by global positioning systems (GPS) and field visits were used to identify the cropping pattern of a large irrigation scheme in Central Asia. Two methods were used to estimate the crop evapotranspiration (ET). In the first, the ETs of the different crops were calculated from local field climatic data using the Penman–Monteith method of calculating crop water requirements as used in the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) CropWat programme. The satellite data were transferred to a geographical information system (GIS) and the area of each crop type was identified. Combining the two sets of data gave an estimate of ET and total evaporative water demand for each crop. ET was also calculated directly from the satellite data using a modified sensible heat flux approach (SEBAL). The Penman–Monteith approach estimated the ET to be 5.7, 3.3, 4.4 and 6.3mmd −1 for cotton, mixed crop, alfalfa and rice respectively, whereas the ET estimated from the satellite data were 4.4, 3, 3.2 and 5.3mmd −1 , respectively. The possible causes of these differences are discussed. The FAO Penman–Monteith methodology for estimating crop water requirements is best for planning purposes but the SEBAL approach is potentially more useful for management in that it establishes the amount of water being used by the crop and can help identify where water is being wasted.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK

Publication date: 2005-06-01

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