Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020NM330B

Improving Water Use Efficiency Using Ground-based Microwave and Optical Scintillometer Measurements of Evapotranspiration of Pecan Orchards

Institute: New Mexico
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $29,676 Total Non-Federal Funds: $59,352

Principal Investigators: Hatim M.E.Geli

Abstract: New Mexico’s (NM) dry conditions are normal and increasing due to prolonged and persistent drought events [1, 2] which pose an additional stress on available water supply. These conditions have a significant impact on water use and agricultural producers. A more relatively drier conditions are the characteristics of southern NM where most of the irrigated agriculture is located. As the United States (US) leads global pecan production, a significant amount of this production is provided by New Mexico and Georgia [3]. About 70-80% of NM’s production is in Dona Aña county mainly in the Elephant Butte Irrigation District (EBID). Historically pecan growers and generally agricultural activities in NM have somehow managed to sustain their production and livelihood during these periods with the conjunctive surface-groundwater use practice. However, the variable surface water supply and concerns about declining groundwater level, there are some significant challenges that continue to be an issue for NM that are related to the long-term sustainability of water resources and the socioeconomic stability. Despite the variable water supply in the region, pecan acreage, price and production continue to increase. Such trends can lead in the long-term to significant shifts and changes in land use management and consequently an unsustained increased water use. Moreover, drought conditions have triggered additional challenges of complying with water use policies and rights while the need to meet water demands for irrigation. These changes, which are currently evident, require rigorous water use management and allocation to maintain a resilient water resources system that stems from understanding individual end-users and water managers’ needs. This proposal aims to provide improved estimates of consumptive water use based on evapotranspiration measurements over pecan orchard using the state-of-the art equipment in collaboration to one of the major pecan growers in the state.