For the second year, DWFI and The Climate Corporation (TCC), with support from the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance (NEWBA), collaborated on a research project to better understand the field-level application of ET research. Despite spring flooding in the state, DWFI successfully worked with 11 partner farmers in central and western Nebraska to gather field data throughout the 2019 growing season.
The fields of partner farmers were divided into three sections — one-half of each field was irrigated based on regular grower management, one-quarter was irrigated according to data from TCC’s proprietary software, and the other quarter’s irrigation was prescribed by DWFI researchers. DWFI made its calculations using weather data, satellite thermal imagery, past irrigation data, soil mapping, soil water monitoring and the Spatial Evapotranspiration Modeling Interface (SETMI).
To achieve high yields, farmers must use stored soil water, precipitation and irrigation to satisfy a crop’s total water requirement after ET.
The DWFI/TCC project hopes for two results: (1) compare the three prescription techniques after harvest and (2) ground truth ways of measuring ET through satellite imagery. The mostly open-source measurement methods used by DWFI are available anywhere in the world. If they prove accurate as a way to effectively prescribe irrigation, they could be used in the future to determine irrigation needs for crops in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region or other high-potential areas, as opposed to using solely on-ground, in-field measurements.