Earth Observation for Agricultural Water monitoring
Recent droughts have highlighted the dramatic consequences of reduced rainfall and insufficient water resources. In mainland France, many departments have had to implement irrigation restriction orders, forcing farmers to reduce or completely stop irrigating their crops. In New Caledonia, prolonged droughts have also led to a significant reduction in water resources, seriously affecting farming activities. Faced with these challenges, it is imperative to have accurate information and effective means for integrated irrigation water management. The development of innovative tools based on satellite imagery and cutting-edge technology offers promising possibilities.
Precise identification of irrigated agricultural plots from satellite data enables the relevant authorities to better assess water demand and implement appropriate measures. Spatial monitoring of crop drought is essential for detecting signs of water stress and taking preventive measures to minimise and quantify agricultural losses. In addition, water availability in reservoirs, assessed from Earth observations, is a key indicator for effectively planning irrigation water supplies and avoiding shortages.
As part of the EO4AgriWater project, the Toulouse-based company MEOSS and the New Caledonian company INSIGHT are joining forces to capitalise on and extend their R&D work on the themes of water and agriculture, carried out during their previous projects under the Space for Climate Observatory label. These projects have led to the development of operational tools in mainland France and New Caledonia for monitoring crop drought (EO4DM, INSIGHT), monitoring water bodies (MEO-Climate, MEOSS) and identifying irrigated crops (Space4Irrig, MEOSS).
The objectives of EO4AgriWater are to confirm the robustness of the models developed during previous SCO projects (new experimental sites), to test their transferability to other territories (from New Caledonia to France and vice versa) and, above all, to carry out a joint analysis of all the results to provide a summary indicator (drought/irrigation/water).
To achieve these ambitious objectives, MEOSS and INSIGHT are working with several key partners from the agricultural world in mainland France (the Gers and Alsace Chambers of Agriculture) and New Caledonia (the N-C Chamber of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Rural Agency), to provide business expertise. Scientific experts (UMR CESBIO and UMR Espace-Dev/IRD) are participating in the consortium to validate the methodological approaches and results.
The project is broken down into Work Packages (WP) leading to the development of a decision-making tool for the experimental areas. The content of the six Work Packages is as follows:
- WP1 : Link with end users
Defining user profiles and their needs, validating the decision-making tools produced during a user test phase.
- WP2: Plant drought indicators
Locating and monitoring plant drought trends using satellite data
- WP3: Irrigation and characterisation indicators
Identify irrigated plots and characterise crop types using satellite data
- WP4 : Indicators for monitoring water bodies
Identify and monitor changes in the surface area of water bodies using satellite data
- WP5 : Decision support tool
Working with partners to develop summary indicators that are easier to interpret, to support decision-making, and to develop a demonstrator (web-mapping platform).
- WP6 : Coordination with partners
Ensuring that the project runs smoothly
Territories for experimentation
- Department of Gers, Franc
- Department of Alsace, France
- New Caledonia
- Copernicus Sentinel-1 (radar)
- Copernicus Sentinel-2 (optical)
- Landsat-9 (optical + thermal)
- MODIS (thermal)
- ASCAT (microwave)
- Drought indicators and agro-meteorological data from the Météo-France New Caledonia observation network
- Global products from sub-seasonal and seasonal forecasting models from the Météo-France and ECMWF systems (ERA5Land)
- In situ surveys provided by partners
Results – Final product(s)
The final product will take the form of a simplified, clear and up-to-date web-mapping platform designed to enable non-expert use of information derived from spatial imagery. Users will be able to select and view the following map indicators:
- Identification of irrigated crops,
- Monitoring plant drought,
- Identification and surface monitoring of water reservoirs,
- A summary indicator, a real decision-making tool, derived from joint analysis in response to user needs.
As part of the project, a set of deliverables will be produced, corresponding to each Work Package:
- LWP1 - Report describing the main user profiles and assessment of the test phase
- LWP2 - Production report on drought in mainland France and New Caledonia presenting the method and results
- LWP3 - Production report on irrigation and its characterisation in mainland France and New Caledonia presenting the method and results
- LWP4 - Production report on the monitoring of water bodies in mainland France and New Caledonia, presenting the method and results
- LWP5 - Decision support tool (co-construction, production report and web-mapping platform)
- LWP6 - Meeting boards and progress reports
MEO-Climate, led by MEOSS and awarded the SCO label in 2020. This project has led to the development of the MEO-WaterReserve tool, dedicated to the identification and surface monitoring of water bodies using satellite images. MEO-WaterReserve is intended for use by land managers and for planning purposes, and has enabled the project partner to improve its knowledge of the levels of use of hill reservoirs.
EO4DroughtMonitoring, led by INSIGHT and awarded the SCO label in 2021. This project has enabled the development of a decision-making tool for institutions and a management tool for the agricultural sector. The system is capable of assessing the intensity of drought episodes, estimating their severity by analogy with a historical reference state and, coupled with current data, providing an indication of the plausible future trajectory of a hydrological season.
Space4Irrig, led by UMR CESBIO and MEOSS, and awarded the SCO label in 2021. This project has developed methods for identifying irrigated crops and the MEO-Irrigation decision-support tool for water managers. The mapping tool brings together a number of indicators to improve knowledge and identify effective water resource management strategies for the future.