With 230,000 acres of land used for agriculture, Yuma county ranks third in the nation for vegetable production. However, as there are many instances of drought conditions and water shortages in the West, agriculture is at risk. To help address these issues, researchers in Arizona evaluated water efficiency and salt balances for 14 common crop varieties in the Winter Lettuce capital, coordinated by the Yuma Center of Excellence for Desert Agriculture.
The study took place over seven years and the results were published in a paper in November 2023. This data was used to inform organizations like the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for future water management decisions and NASA who “wished to improve irrigation science and remote sensing technologies,” according to the paper.
It was one of the most extensive use of eddy covariance technology, which measures crop evapotranspiration, that’s ever been done, according to co-principal investigator Andrew French. Another technology used was remote sensing through satellite data, which is now available freely at high resolutions.