[env-trinity] California Watch 7 28 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Jul 28 10:19:26 PDT 2010
How can NASA help California farmers?
By Susanne Rust
Generally preoccupied by such celestial phenomena as brown dwarves and solar
flares, NASA is now turning its sights to a more provincial domain: farms.
In partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and others, NASA
will provide weekly satellite images of California farmland to farmers.
The photos will show farmers which of their crops are in need of water, and
which aren't, enabling them to use space-age technology to inform irrigation
Currently, farmers turn to the California Irrigation Management Information
System to get daily estimates on crop evaporation. The system, however,
doesn't account for site specific conditions or annual variability in the
weather. So, the estimates may differ from the actual, real-time conditions.
According to Western Growers, a partner in the project and the largest
agricultural trade association in the United States, the USDA has shown that
crop-satellite imagery can fix the inaccuracies in this situation.
They are building an automated data-processing system that will monitor crop
growth throughout the San Joaquin Valley and combine this information with
weather data, crop type, soil maps and various evaporation models to give a
more accurate, timely and pinpointed estimate of a particular farm's
"Water-supply reliability is a very important issue to our producers in
California and Arizona," said Wendy Fink-Weber, spokeswoman for Western
Growers. "The collaboration among federal space agencies, academia and
industry, along with advanced satellite technology, may point the way to a
more sustainable future for farming and the local supply of fresh food."
The project will also try to move the data sharing onto mobile devices to
further personalize the information for individual farmers' needs.
Other partners of the project include CSU Monterey Bay, NASA Ames Research
Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Marshall Space Flight Center and Western
The project was described in a Western Growers' monthly magazine article and
released Monday to California Watch. Western Growers' magazine is for paid
subscribers and members, only.
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land/fax
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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