Satellites can tell a grower how much water to use on their crop. National Aeronautical and Space Administration satellites continuously monitor several aspects of our planet. “We have 19 satellites orbiting the earth right now that are sensing the earth in all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said while touring the World Ag Expo.
Bridenstine said that information tracks evapotranspiration and in conjunction with ground-sensors from partners like the University of California Cooperative Extension, they can determine those numbers down to a quarter-acre.
Some growers are using this now to see how well the system works and Bridenstine hopes they can get to the point where any grower can find the data online to make educated irrigation decisions. “From the experiments so far, we have been able to demonstrate that farmers that are taking advantage of this technology are keeping their crop yields and quality the same while reducing their water use by 20 to 25 percent and protecting their nitrates in the soil,” he stated. “Eventually we want to take that across the entire United States so any grower in the U.S., and maybe even the world, can go on the internet and figure out the evapotranspiration measurement for the quarter-acre they are interested in and make very precise calculations as to irrigation.”
Listen to Bridenstine’s full explanation.