The influence of shallow groundwater on the actual transpiration flux of irrigated fields using satellite observations

Nadja Den Besten*, Jaap Schellekens, Richard De Jeu, Pieter Van Der Zaag

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Irrigation requirements are mostly determined by estimating the atmospheric evaporative demand, in combination with precipitation data to estimate the irrigation need per field. However, in case of a high groundwater table, the contribution of capillary rise is often not taken into account. Nevertheless, this flux can contribute significantly to the actual evaporation. Ignoring this flux in irrigation practices might lead to over-irrigation and reduced yields. The significance of the groundwater flux in a furrow irrigated sugarcane plantation in Mozambique with a shallow groundwater table is presented here. Groundwater levels in a sugarcane plantation in Xinavane in Mozambique were recorded in several fields for a duration of six months. The groundwater recordings, potential evaporation estimates from satellite remote sensing, and field data were combined in the Vegetation-AtMosPhere-Soil water model (VAMPS) that was set up to understand the effect of groundwater contribution on the actual evaporation of a sugarcane field. With the hydrological field representations set up, we analyzed whether the current furrow irrigation requirement in the plantation, of 1350 mm/year for furrow irrigation, is efficient. The results show that groundwater contribution to the transpiration flux reduces the need for irrigation in the study area. As such, we conclude that the current irrigation requirement is leading to over-irrigation. The incorporation of the groundwater contribution is needed to provide adequate estimations for irrigation. A reduction in irrigation for these fields will lead to a higher water productivity in the study area.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of SPIE- International Society for Optical Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventRemote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology XXI 2019 - Strasbourg, France
Duration: 9 Sep 201911 Sep 2019


  • Evaporation
  • Field water balance
  • Irrigation
  • Shallow groundwater

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