Dee Waldron, a Morgan County farmer, uses data from the NRCS Soil Climate Analysis Network, or SCAN, to make more informed farm management decisions.
Utah dairyman Dee Waldron watches the weather closely. He wants clear, up-to-date weather and climate information anytime and anywhere that help him make critical farming decisions, such as when to irrigate, plant and harvest.
Waldron operates a dairy and feed grain farm in Morgan County, just east of Salt Lake City. This area is considered a high mountain desert and is not very productive without annual mountain streamflows stored in irrigation reservoirs.
“Before, I used to take a shovel in the field, dig down, and guess by feeling how much moisture was available for my crops,” Waldron said. “Now I use my computer and iPhone to access the local weather forecast, the amount of soil moisture, the snow levels in the mountains, the amount of water in the river, and even the soil temperature. This really helps us as agricultural producers.” Read more »
Satellites orbiting the Earth help us in countless ways. For example, they allow the GPS in our smartphones to tell us where we are located and they help us watch football games on weekends. And now a new NASA satellite scheduled for launch in 2014—the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) instrument—will help USDA better predict agricultural productivity and forecast drought conditions.
There are three things of utmost importance to farmers—soil, sun and water. SMAP will serve at the junction of two of these variables, helping USDA and others improve its knowledge and understanding of soil moisture. Measuring soil moisture helps scientists, farmers, water managers and others understand how much water will be available at any given time, which influences the key decisions they make about managing and using water supplies. Read more »