How much water is used for irrigation?

Feeding a growing global population is a major concern, but efforts to grow more food will place an added burden on precious supplies of freshwater. We have developed a new approach for using measurements of soil moisture from space to understand how much water is used for agriculture and potentially help farmers manage consumption.

We now plan to extend the study to explore the potential offered by the high-resolution data from the new Copernicus mission, Sentinel-1, jointly with the very high-resolution optical observations from Sentinel-2.

Including Sentinel missions in our study may change the spatial and temporal scales at which we can observe irrigation from space. I am guessing that with more research these new high-resolution products will be a game changer in the near future to advance our capacity to better monitor irrigation over agricultural lands.

We have already published the first paper outlining our approach:

How much water is used for irrigation? A new approach exploiting coarse resolution satellite soil moisture products” International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
by L. Brocca, A. Tarpanelli, P. Filippucci W. Dorigo F. Zaussinger, A. Gruber and D. Fernández-Prieto

We have also raised the interest of MEDIA in the ESA website, the Science Trends and we give an interview (in Italian) for “Economia Cristiana“.

We have won the “BayWa Smart Farming Challenge” at 2018 COPERNICUS MASTER for the idea “SPACE-IRR – How Much Water for Irrigation?”