Satellite data helps vineyards manage water use

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In Maryland, ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory scientists are fine-tuning computer models to help vineyard managers determine how much water to apply and when to apply it.  The models tap into satellite data about soil and vine moisture levels and rates of water use or evapotranspiration.

Winemakers want grapes of uniform quality, and that can be a challenge with vineyards that have different soils and climatic conditions across thousands of acres.  Even a single vineyard can have a variety of irrigation needs, according to Bill Kustas, an ARS hydrologist.

The ARS model uses satellite measurements of land surface temperature in a unique way by separating out the vine canopy from the soil surface temperatures.  This gives the model greater precision and enables researchers to better evaluate vine stress.  Over the next two years, the ARS researchers plan to develop a daily digital map of evapotranspiration in California’s Central Valley.

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