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[en] For some years, it has become clear that climate change is having a major impact on water availability for agriculture and crop productivity. To improve the use of this resource in agriculture, it is essential to measure the water content of the soil. The Cosmic Ray Neutron Sensor (CRNS) has recently been used for measuring soil moisture content (SWC) in large areas and appears to become a credible and robust alternative to the other device.
[en] With global climate change, water availability will be a problem for agriculture and food production. Agriculture production consumes more than 70 percent of the world’s water resources, mainly for irrigation. With water use efficiency less than 50%, the challenge is to ensure adequate agricultural production while achieving maximum efficiency of irrigation water use. Climate-smart irrigation practices, including effective soil moisture monitoring, can help to meet this challenge and ensure longer water availability when drought is hitting the farmlands.
[en] In the last decades the use of satellite images and remote sensing for agricultural activities has increased to encompass factors such as plant growth or biomass. However, satellite images may not be available for all regions or during all seasons (cloud cover) and precision agriculture requires smaller resolutions for mapping small elements as for example trees or smaller crops. The application of multispectral cameras mounted on UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) is therefore a new and fast developing market and methodology. In order to explore its opportunities a training course on the use of UAVs and multispectral camera systems in agriculture was organized for the staff of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture in Vienna, Seibersdorf from 23-27 September 2019. The course was led by Mr Erik de Badts (Micasense) but included several guest lecturers from different companies and research facilities. In total six staff members from the SWMCN laboratory and section participated. The course provided insights into the different UAVs available, camera systems, software and data processing programmes. IAEA staff learnt how to plan a UAV survey and process acquired data.
[en] Global climate change has a major impact on the availability of water resources for agricultural production. Sustainable agricultural productivity to ensure food security requires good agricultural water management. Soil moisture is an important variable in irrigation management, hydrological modelling, groundwater recharge, flood and drought forecasting. Cosmic Ray Neutron Sensors (CRNS) have the capability to estimate field-scale soil moisture (SM) in large areas up to 20 to 30 ha and has demonstrated its ability to support agricultural water management, hydrology studies and land surface modelling. However, measurement of soil moisture at a global or regional scale can only be achieved from satellite remote sensing. Recently, active microwave remote sensing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging has emerged as an effective tool to estimate surface soil moisture. The Sentinel-1 (SAR) satellite shows great potential for high spatial resolution soil moisture monitoring and for producing soil moisture maps. CRNS technology can be used for calibration and validation remote sensing imagery predictions at field and area-wide level.
[en] Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is a tropical root crop important for almost 800 million people worldwide. Due to climate change and an increasing year-round demand from starch processing industries, farmers are forced to grow their crops during less favourable dry periods. To cope with problems of drought stress, stable isotope techniques based on 13C (related to water use efficiency) and 18O (related to stomatal conductance) are being developed by the SWMCN laboratory in Seibersdorf in collaboration with the Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA), led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Once these techniques are established, they will help in decision making processes related to variety selection and fertilizer application.