Agricultural Soil Water workshop
by Luigi Renzullo, OzEWEX
On 17 – 18 February a number of OzEWEX members participated in the workshop ”Agricultural Soil Water R & D – Observations and Outlooks” at the University of Melbourne. The workshop was hosted by Dr Rob Argent (Bureau of Meteorology) and Prof Andrew Western (University of Melbourne), and brought researchers from government and universities together with industry representatives (Meat & Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia, Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources) to discuss current capability and future prospects for soil water information products relevant to agricultural decision support, production management and prediction.
The two day workshop was comprised of a number of technical sessions on agricultural soil water information, covering topics such as: ground observations networks; remote sensing capability and products; data assimilation; product inter-comparison and evaluation; and operational forecasting capability.
In depth, lively discussion accompanied each session, and the contribution by the agricultural industry representatives was invaluable to help (re-)shape thinking around the nature of the soil water information products for the sector. A resounding message to the research community was that while detailed knowledge of the current soil water status (in the so-called ’bank’) is important, it is the ability to forecast into the multi-week / monthly time frame that is likely to have the greatest impact on the sector. Furthermore, it was stressed that soil water information is one of many geospatial information products available for decision support, and there for service to synthesis and collate the information (from a variety of sources) into a single front-end is of great interest. This last point was nicely summarised by one industrial delegate as ‘we do not [necessarily] want yet another website to visit’. A detailed workshop summary is available here.
OzEWEX members also presented on a wide range of other topics, including: cosmic ray sensor networks (Dr Dave McJannet, CSIRO); Murrumbidgee catchment soil moisture network (prof Andrew Western, University of Melbourne, and prof Jeff Walker, Monash University); satellite microwave-derived soil moisture products (Dr Yi Liu, UNSW); satellite product error characterisation (Dr Chun-Hsu Su, University of Melbourne); trends in modelled and observed soil moisture products to meet agricultural needs (Dr Luigi Renzullo, CSIRO); examples of soil moisture DA (Dr Dongryeol Ryu, University of Melbourne); soil moisture products from ACCESS (Dr Imtiaz Dharssi, Bureau of Meteorology); and Bureau’s evaluation of AWAP, AWRA and CABLE SM products (Dr Andrew Frost, Bureau of Meteorology).