In the midst of California’s historic drought and plummeting agricultural revenue, a collaborative project between researchers from Fresno State, Cal State Monterey Bay, the USDA, NASA, and local growers will provide farmers with essential data to determine the watering needs of drip-irrigated crops.

Plant science graduate student Touyee Thao’s research project aims to pinpoint water requirements of selected vegetable and row crops and integrate these key measurements into the Satellite Irrigation Management Support system built jointly by California State University, Monterey Bay and NASA. Results will be shared with California growers, irrigation district managers, and government agencies.

This project aims to optimize water use efficiency to provide short-term water conservation. It promises to conserve local water supplies and contribute to lower use of electricity and diesel fuel for groundwater pumping.

Funded by the CSU Agricultural Research Initiative, Thao’s project encourages the trend toward the use of drip irrigation, while assisting growers—especially those in areas where water is less available—to optimize water use and increase farming revenues.

“Living in California for most of my life while pursuing a graduate degree in plant science, I have come to realize the difficulties that California agriculture will be facing in the near future,” Thao notes. “I hope the findings from this collaborative work between experts from different fields of discipline will aid with scientific progression in crop water requirement, crop water use efficiency, and water conservation. It is significant not only to California agriculture, but the entire state’s economy.”