Water Management

Optimal allocation of water leads to profitable farming operations. Determining the optimal water allocation to each crop becomes critically important when water is limited and multiple crops are competing for available water.

MSFC scientists have developed a novel decision tool to guide farm operators in making water management decisions based on economic conditions, water application costs, and the expected response of individual crops to the applied water.

Decision Support Tool

A decision tool has been developed with the objective of allocating limited available water among competing crops during the critical production period to maximize the economic returns to the producer. Salient features are:

  • Linked to USDA’s Erosion-Productivity Impact Calculator (EPIC) for estimating variations in crop biomass by varying water availability conditions, which in turn reflects in variations in crop yields.
  • Evapotranspiration term can be derived from remotely sensed estimates (MODIS Land Surface Temperature)
  • Scalable in nature, can be applied from farm scale to regional scale.
  • Can be a significant enhancement to a DSS such as AWARDS
  • Tested for competing crops in GA, AL.

Graphic representation to evaluate economic return for farms of different sizes relative to available water.

Further details can be found in this journal article.


Potential uses for this decision tool include:

  • Individual farmers for micro scale optimization
  • Water Management Districts for optimal utilization of resources
  • State Natural Resource Departments for evaluating statewide estimates of crop yields
  • USDA Agricultural Extension Service for guidance

Technical Contact: Dr. Ashutosh Limaye (ashutosh.limaye@msfc.nasa.gov)
Responsible Official: Dr. James L. Smoot (James.L.Smoot@nasa.gov)
Page Curator: Diane Samuelson (diane.samuelson@nasa.gov)