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Monitoring Soil Moisture to Support Risk Reduction for the Agriculture Sector Using RADARSAT-2

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4 Author(s)
McNairn, H. ; Res. Branch, Agric. & Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada ; Merzouki, A. ; Pacheco, A. ; Fitzmaurice, J.

Monitoring the amount of moisture held in the soil is critical in the management of risk for the agriculture sector. Extremes in soil moisture can lead to devastating consequences. Early assessment of soil moisture reserves, and monitoring of changes in available soil moisture, could assist in risk reduction strategies for the agriculture sector and effective delivery of government programs. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has been acquiring RADARSAT-2 data since 2008 to evaluate the accuracy with which this sensor can provide soil moisture to assist with implementing risk reduction strategies for the Canadian agriculture sector. The calibrated Integral Equation Model (IEM) was used to estimate soil moisture for 15 RADARSAT-2 data sets acquired over an eastern and western Canadian test site. Using this approach, field level soil moisture was estimated to a mean average error of 7.95%, although considerable scatter in the results was observed. Removing fields which had significant residue cover improved site specific soil moisture errors, but only for the fall campaign prior to spring tillage and seed bed preparation. Higher errors were also observed for data sets where angles between the RADARSAT-2 look direction and field tillage structures were largest. When soil moisture estimates were evaluated at a regional scale, mean errors fell to 3.14%. The IEM was also able to detect increases and decreases in soil moisture which followed periods of rainfall and drying.

Published in:

Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:5 ,  Issue: 3 )