The Crush June 2022 - 1

Volume 49 | Issue 6 | June 2022
Satellite-based Field Data for Growers
Article by Ted Rieger
Satellite imagery and data have been available for
many years as potential tools for ag operations to
monitor crop growth and health over a growing
season, and for comparisons between growing
seasons. Although this information has historically
required particular technology and software programs
to access and interpret, new websites are making
this information accessible and user-friendly to more
people, and much information is free and publicly
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) launched OpenET online in October 2021
to provide water use data from Landsat satellite
imagery and models free and accessible to farmers
and water managers to help monitor and manage
irrigation based on evapotranspiration (ET). OpenET
data covers 17 western U.S. states including the
major West Coast grapegrowing states of California,
Oregon, and Washington.
OpenET uses data, open-source models, and Google
Earth Engine to provide satellite-based information
on water consumption in areas as small as one quarter
of an acre at monthly and yearly intervals. These are
satellite-based estimates of the total amount of water
transferred through evaporation from the land surface
and transpiration from plants to the atmosphere
through ET, also referred to as " actual ET. "
The basis for the satellite data for OpenET is
the Landsat program, a partnership
between NASA and the U.S.
Geological Survey that dates to the
1970s. A major part of the OpenET
data are from Landsat 7, launched
in 1999, and Landsat 8, launched in 2013. The most
recent satellite in the program, Landsat 9, launched
on September 27, 2021 and will begin providing
data in 2022. Landsat 7 and 8 each take 16 days to
cover the Earth, but their flights are staggered, thus
providing a data capture pass for every location every
8 days.
OpenET portal shows 2020 ET for a 47-acre vineyard in the Lodi AVA.
OpenET was developed through a public-private
collaboration led by NASA, environmental
organizations, Google Earth Engine, the USDAAgricultural
Research Service, academic institutions,
and with input from 100+ stakeholders, including E&J
Gallo Winery. Gallo viticulture researchers assisted
with ground-truthing OpenET data using ET data
from sensors in California vineyards. The satellitebased
ET measurement method was developed and
correlated using six well-established models that are
combined as an ensemble and averaged to provide
ET estimates. Accuracy assessment was done using
over 140 ground-truthing sites in the western U.S.
where ET is measured using flux towers or lysimeters.

The Crush June 2022

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