Forecasting Potential Evapotranspiration By Combining Numerical Weather Predictions And Visible And Near-infrared Satellite Images: An Application In Southern Italy
Irrigation according to reliable estimates of crop water requirements (CWR) is one of the key strategies to ensure long-term sustainability of irrigated agriculture. In southern Mediterranean regions, during the irrigation season, CWR is almost totally controlled by the potential evapotranspiration of the irrigated crop. An innovative system for forecasting crop potential evapotranspiration (ETp) has been implemented recently in the Campania region (southern Italy). The system produces ETp forecasts with a lead time of up to 5 days, by coupling the visible and near-infrared crop imagery with numerical weather prediction outputs of a limited area model. The forecasts are delivered to farmers with a simple and intuitive web app interface, which makes daily real-time ETp maps accessible from desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. Forecast performances were evaluated for maize fields of two farms in two irrigation seasons (2014–2015). The mean absolute bias of the forecasted ETp was <0.3 mm/day and the RMSE was <0.6 mm/day, both for lead times up to 5 days.