A leap forward in estimating crop water use

01 May, 2019

​To conserve and manage fresh water, particularly in arid regions such as Saudi Arabia, it is important to understand how the water is used each day. KAUST scientists are using data gathered by shoebox-sized satellites, or CubeSats, to learn more about daily agricultural water use.

An estimated 90 percent of Saudi Arabia’s freshwater supplies are used in crop irrigation, but much of this comes from unsustainable aquifers. However, keeping track of water fluxes is incredibly difficult and there are no estimates tracking agricultural consumption by area over time.

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Image: A spatial map of water use for the researched farm area, as generated using CubeSat data and an adapted evapotranspiration model.
Reproduced from reference under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license @ 2018