DWFI’s network of eddy covariance flux towers across the central U.S. is starting to provide valuable data. The Parallel 41 Flux Network measures evapotranspiration (ET= total plant evaporation and transpiration into the atmosphere), which is a key measurement for determining a plant’s unique daily water needs. ET data helps growers precisely apply the amount of water a plant needs, when it needs it, to achieve the best possible yields. While ET can be difficult to measure directly, it is effective for assessing water budgets, water productivity, plant stress and drought.
Eddy covariance flux towers are the most accurate method of measuring ET. They do so by measuring the movement and speed of eddies, or three-dimensional circular patterns, to determine movement of water vapor and other gasses. The variance in this movement and the composition of the air helps measure ET more exactly.
The Parallel 41 Flux Network is situated to represent different climate conditions and crop types. With support from the Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC) and LI-COR Biosciences, six of the existing flux towers have been upgraded in the past year using new software, which provides data in real time, greatly enhancing the utility of the network.
Daily ET measurements from these flux towers are freely available to farmers, NRD managers, scientists and others through the Parallel 41 website. The real-time data can help these stakeholders better control water usage for maximum productivity.