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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #371735

Research Project: Precipitation and Irrigation Management to Optimize Profits from Crop Production

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: The impact and value of accurate evapotranspiration networks in Texas High Plains production agriculture

item MAREK, THOMAS - Texas A&M Agrilife
item PORTER, DANA - Texas A&M Agrilife
item HOWELL, TERRY - Retired ARS Employee
item Marek, Gary
item Brauer, David - Dave

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/11/2020
Publication Date: 8/18/2020
Citation: Marek, T.H., Porter, D.O., Howell, T.A., Marek, G.W., Brauer, D.K. 2020. The impact and value of accurate evapotranspiration networks in Texas High Plains production agriculture. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 36(4):451-455.

Interpretive Summary: Fresh water available for irrigation is decreasing due to decreases in supply and competition for other uses. Irrigation demand can be decreased when irrigation is scheduled according the evapotranspiration (ET) estimates. Evapotranspiration (ET) networks have provided regional weather data for use in U.S. agricultural production for more than 50 years. Accurate measurement of weather parameters is contingent upon instrumentation and site maintenance as well as data quality assurance and quality control. However, associated costs coupled with limited funding has often led to data quality issues and/or network failures. Information about funding and labor requirements to operate successful ET networks is noticeably absent in the literature. Also lacking is information on the impact of networks in terms of regional water savings associated with ET-based irrigation scheduling. Researchers from Texas A&M and USDA-ARS, Bushland, Texas, present an evaluation of selected current and historical ET networks in the U.S.

Technical Abstract: Evapotranspiration (ET) networks have been developed and used to support weather and related ET information needs of U.S. agricultural production for nearly half a century, but many have been affected by inherent problems associated with sustained operations. Consequently, these challenges have led to the discontinuation of network service in many cases. Most ET networks have been impacted by the lack of sustained financial support compounded by inadequacy of public awareness and understanding as to their usefulness and value in irrigation management, water conservation and water planning and policy activities. Data accuracy is vital to its usefulness, yet network data quality is often degraded when limited resources result in reduced equipment maintenance and data QA/QC. A discussion of ET network requirements and associated costs is presented. For the Texas High Plains, a brief analysis is presented documenting the accuracy gains of crop water use estimates and the associated regional value and impact based on an accurate regional irrigation demand estimation model.