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Crop water productivity from cloud-Based landsat helps assess California’s water savings

July 7, 2023
Demand for food and water are increasing while the extent of arable land and accessible fresh water are decreasing. This poses global challenges as economies continue to develop and the population grows. With agriculture as the leading consumer of water, better understanding how water is used to produce food may help support the increase of Crop Water Productivity (CWP; kg/m3), the ratio of crop output per unit of water input (or crop per drop). Previous large-scale CWP studies have been useful for broad water use modeling at coarser resolutions. However, obtaining more precise CWP, especially for specific crop types in a particular area and growing season as outlined here are important for informing farm-scale water management decision making. Therefore, this study focused on California’s Central Valley utilizing high-spatial resolution satellite imagery of 30 m (0.09 hectares per pixel) to generate more precise CWP for commonly grown and water-intensive irrigated crops. First, two products were modeled and mapped. 1. Landsat based Actual Evapotranspiration (ETa; mm/d) to determine Crop Water Use (CWU; m3/m2), and 2. Crop Productivity (CP; kg/m2) to estimate crop yield per growing season. Then, CWP was calculated by dividing CP by CWU and mapped. The amount of water that can be saved by increasing CWP of each crop was further calculated. For example, in the 434 million m2 study area, a 10% increase in CWP across the 9 crops analyzed had a potential water savings of 31.5 million m3 of water. An increase in CWP is widely considered the best approach for saving maximum quantities of water. This paper proposed, developed, and implemented a workflow of combined methods utilizing cloud computing based remote sensing data. The environmental implications of this work in assessing water savings for food and water security in the 21st century are expected to be significant.

Publication Year 2024
Title Crop water productivity from cloud-Based landsat helps assess California’s water savings
DOI 10.3390/rs15194894
Authors Daniel Foley, Prasad Thenkabail, Adam Oliphant, Itiya Aneece, Pardhasaradhi Teluguntla
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Remote Sensing
Index ID 70250952
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Geographic Science Center