Thursday, 17 April 2014

Crop monitoring in Europe

MARS Bulletin Vol. 22 No. 4 (2014), you can find this and previous reports here.

If you’re not familiar with the Monitoring of Agriculture with Remote Sensing (MARS) project, it started in 1988 and was designed to use space technologies to provide independent, timely information on crop areas and yields.

It is a brilliant EU project but I can’t help thinking it would be added to if you had confirmation reports from boots on the ground agronomists.  

Like, for example, me.

The summary is that well-advanced winter crops would now welcome rain.  Winter crops are strongly advanced from western to eastern Europe, positive biomass accumulation in the Mediterranean countries with unfavourable canopy development in eastern Ukraine and central Turkey.

Here’s what the latest MARS bulletin has to say about Ukraine.

The map displays the differences between the fraction of Absorbed Photosynthetically Active Radiation (fAPAR) observed during the period 21-31 March 2014 and the long-term average (LTA, 1998-2012) for the same period.  Essentially how developed the crop canopy is.

In Ukraine, persistent warm temperatures determined high crop growth rates during March.

In central regions (e.g. Poltavs’ka), increased crop demands for water are not met due to the large precipitation deficit built up over the past months.

Exceptionally dry conditions may affect crop growth.

After a mild and dry winter, March also remained milder than usual, and rainfall was sparse.

The exceptionally dry conditions in central Ukraine may affect yields of winter cereals.

Winter wheat yield forecasts are below the 5-year average.

Meteorological conditions in March followed the tendency observed during this winter.

Average temperatures remained milder than usual, from 3°C above average in eastern regions to 5°C in north-western regions.

Rainfall remained far below the average, and the six-month period October-March is one of the driest recorded in our database.

The driest conditions were observed in central regions (Cherkas’ka, Kirovohrads’ka, Mykolayivs’ka) which received 50% of the average cumulated rainfall from October to March, and 40% of the average cumulated rainfall since 1 March.

According to our model, winter crop development is 20 days in advance compared to an average year, which implies that leaf area and crop water demand are also unusually high for this time of the year.

Biomass accumulation of winter cereals will be negatively affected unless soil water levels are significantly replenished.

The emergence of spring crops may also be impacted by these exceptionally dry conditions.