Findings will lead to better agriculture choices and water management decisions
Irrigation for agriculture is the largest use of fresh water around the globe, but precise records and maps of when and where water is applied by farmers are difficult to locate. Now a team of researchers has discovered how to track water used in agriculture.
In a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers detail their use of satellite images to produce annual maps of irrigation. The findings, the scientists said, will help farmers, water resource managers and others understand agricultural irrigation choices and make better water management decisions.
“We want to know how human activities are having an impact on the environment,” said hydrogeologist David Hyndman of Michigan State University (MSU), principal investigator of the project. “Irrigation nearly doubles crop yields and increases farmer incomes, but unsustainable water use for irrigation is resulting in depletion of groundwater aquifers around the world. The question is: ‘How can we best use water?'”