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   Infocentre

Published: 15 November 2017  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Agriculture & foodAgriculture
EnvironmentEcosystems, incl. land, inland waters, marine  |  Land management
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
France  |  Spain
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Better data flows to reduce water use

In an effort to reduce agricultural pressure on water resources - the sector accounts for up to 80 % of water use in some parts of the EU, researchers are on a mission to improve on-farm irrigation management. More precise land-surface data will make soil-water content estimates more accurate and reduce water use.

Picture of a water pump

© schulzie - fotolia.com

Water scarcity and drought on a global scale have provoked concerns over sustainable water use in Europe and how to improve this. The agricultural sector puts significant pressure on water resources, especially in areas such as the Mediterranean where agricultural irrigation accounts for 80 % of total water use.

Not all of this water is however needed by the crops being irrigated. Modern irrigation relies on measurements of soil moisture in a plant’s root zone. This detects the onset of crop water stress which, in turn, triggers irrigation. However, these measurements are not always available over extended areas, and are rarely representative at field scale, resulting in water wastage.

The REC project is using remote sensing of soil moisture combined with better land-surface modelling techniques to address the need for root-zone soil moisture estimates at crop scale. A downscaling methodology called DISPATCH has been developed to improve the spatial resolution of a satellite data set known as ‘Near Surface Soil Moisture’ (NSSM).

REC will use DISPATCH estimates of NSSM data sets to develop an innovative operational algorithm to map root-zone soil moisture at field scale, on a daily basis. The coupling of surface models and remote-sensing data will lead to more accurate estimates of soil moisture in each field, every day.

These soil-water content estimates will be integrated into a management system that will then be used to trigger irrigation according to crop needs.

These soil-moisture estimates will also enable better monitoring of a farm’s water use, potentially identifying where more water could be saved. Such data could also inform improved predictions of flooding, landslides, groundwater sources and vegetation carbon.

Project details

  • Project acronym: REC
  • Participants: Spain (Coordinator), France
  • Project N°: 645642
  • Total costs: € 895 500
  • EU contribution: € 895 500
  • Duration: March 2015 to February 2019

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Countries
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  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  Gambia
  Georgia