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NASA uses satellite to unearth innovation in crop forecasting
Date:5/26/2009

re relying on limited and highly variable water resources," said Bolten. "And typically those same regions don't have adequate ground station data or crop-estimating agencies capable of making reliable production forecasts."

By definition, the severity of agricultural drought is determined by root-zone soil water content. So Bolten's satellite-driven boost to root-zone soil moisture prediction also directly improves drought monitoring. And Bolten says results from AMSR-E are just a precursor to dramatic new improvements in data and prediction accuracy researchers expect from the Soil Moisture Active and Passive satellite, slated to launch in 2013.

Food reserves are at their lowest level in 30 years, according to the United Nations World Food Program, putting the world's 1 billion poorest people most at risk. Prices for wheat, rice, and corn have more than doubled in the last 24 months, hitting countries like Haiti, Bangladesh, and Burkina Faso the hardest. And the U.S. is not unaffected -- drought in 2008 led to an estimated $1.1 billion in crop losses in Texas alone.

"This advance is making it possible for us to do our job in a more precise way," said Curt Reynolds, a crop analyst for the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington. "We plan to make NASA's soil moisture information available to commodity markets, traders, agricultural producers, and policymakers through our Crop Explorer Web site."


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Contact: Sarah DeWitt
sara.l.dewitt@nasa.gov
301-286-0535
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert

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