Melton works to provide farmers with a more precise picture of the actual water demand and water use on agricultural operations. This is critical in many Western states, he says, where agriculture can use up to 80 percent of available water resources for important food and fiber production.

Melton’s focus with satellite data is to provide improved measurements of crop plant evapotranspiration rates and crop water requirements to California growers in near real time. This can help producers more precisely schedule irrigations and adjust scheduled irrigation events based on current weather conditions and crop stage growth which both strongly influence actual plant water requirements.

The estimates incorporate NASA satellite data plus surface measurements of agricultural weather conditions from the California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS), operated by DWR.

“By making real-time information available, there is potential to support growers who are working to optimize agricultural water use which is especially critical in drought years,” Melton said. “It’s particularly important to maximize the ‘crop per drop’ and get the most out of available water resources.”

Oklahoma was heavily impacted by last summer’s extreme drought. One of the valuable weather tools available to Oklahomans is the Oklahoma Mesonet started in 1994.

Today, the Mesonet is a system of 120, solar-powered remote weather locations with 3,300 sensors which provide about 700,000 weather observations daily. This information produces about 63,000 products and files for rural and urban use every day.

“The weather information includes local weather forecasts, air temperature, rainfall, and wind data but also timely, unique information to serve farmers and ranchers,” said Kevin Kloesel, Oklahoma Climate Survey director.

Mesonet recently upgraded its agricultural weather services. Unveiled in August, the Farm Monitor section on the Mesonet website provides the impact of current weather on cattle comfort, evapotranspiration, 10-inch soil moisture, drought data, and the diseases peanut leaf spot and pecan scab.

“Farmers and ranchers can customize their local Mesonet weather information to have their own personalized local weather updated every five minutes every day,” Kloesel said.

Mesonet smart phone apps are available to receive the weather data. The information can be downloaded to the Apple iPad.

Mesonet is a state-funded program which cost each Oklahoman 40 cents annually.

cblake@farmpress.com