Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute


Date of this Version


Document Type



2016 by the authors


Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 253; doi:10.3390/rs8030253 www.mdpi.com/journal/remotesensing


The main goal of this research was to estimate the actual evapotranspiration (ETc) of a drip-irrigated apple orchard located in the semi-arid region of Talca Valley (Chile) using a remote sensing-based soil water balance model. The methodology to estimate ETc is a modified version of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) dual crop coefficient approach, in which the basal crop coefficient (Kcb) was derived from the soil adjusted vegetation index (SAVI) calculated from satellite images and incorporated into a daily soil water balance in the root zone. A linear relationship between the Kcb and SAVI was developed for the apple orchard Kcb = 1.82 SAVI 0.07 (R2 = 0.95). The methodology was applied during two growing seasons (2010–2011 and 2012–2013), and ETc was evaluated using latent heat fluxes (LE) from an eddy covariance system. The results indicate that the remote sensing-based soil water balance estimated ETc reasonably well over two growing seasons. The root mean square error (RMSE) between the measured and simulated ETc values during 2010–2011 and 2012–2013 were, respectively, 0.78 and 0.74 mm day1, which mean a relative error of 25%. The index of agreement (d) values were, respectively, 0.73 and 0.90. In addition, the weekly ETc showed better agreement. The proposed methodology could be considered as a useful tool for scheduling irrigation and driving the estimation of water requirements over large areas for apple orchards.