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Biophysical characteristics

The biophysical environment within which an FMU (or mission area) is found has an influence on crop productivity and yield (Bayala et al., 2012; Molden et al., 2010). Therefore, it is important to monitor the salient biophysical variables in order to make informed decision during the cropping season. Two biophysical variables are considered important and worth monitoring:

  1. Meteorological variables: rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, total incoming solar radiation, etc. are important meteorological variables that needs to be monitored in and around an FMU during the cropping season. In regions dominated by rainfed agriculture, for example, reliable data on rainfall amounts can assist a farmer to put in the necessary measures to avoid crop water stress (e.g. supplemental irrigation). Meteorological variables are measured by either automatic weather stations which measure a comprehensive set of variables or by simple rain gauges which measure only rainfall.
  2. Soil moisture: This refers to the amount of water in the soil, and a critical factor to crop growth and productivity. Similar to meteorological information, monitoring spatio-temporal variations in soil moisture at different stages of the cropping season enables a farmer to put in place measures that will reduce chances of crop failure. Low levels of soil moisture, for example, may require irrigation (i.e. if no rains are coming). Soil moisture is measured using field devices such as EM38 (Rodrigues et al., 2015).