Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, 2017, 143(8): 06017005

DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)IR.1943-4774.000119


Copyright © 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers. Used by permission.


The unavailability of some meteorological variables, especially solar radiation and wind speed, is the main constraint for reference evapotranspiration (ETo) estimation using the standard United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Penman–Monteith (FAO-PM) equation in most developing countries. The application of ETo methods with fewer input requirements is necessary under limited climatic data conditions. The FAO-PM method under limited data conditions and nine of Valiantzas’ equations were evaluated for daily ETo estimation in a humid climate in Uganda. The FAO-PM method with missing relative humidity data performed very well across Uganda, whereas using the long-term local wind speed average values in place of missing wind speed data resulted in inaccurate ETo estimates. Under missing solar radiation measurements, the FAO-PM method showed different performances relative to the locations. When more than one climatic variable is missing, the FAO-PM method yielded poor ETo estimates compared to the FAO-PM method with full climatic data. The performance of Valiantzas’ equations depends on data requirements: the more meteorological inputs, the higher the ETo accuracy.