6.1.3. Biophysical characteristics

The biophysical environment of the FMU (or mission area)  influences crop productivity and yield (Bayala et al., 2012; Molden et al., 2010). Therefore, it is important to monitor the important biophysical variables to allow informed decisions during the season. Two, interdependent groups of biophysical variables stand out as worthy of monitoring:

  1. Meteorological variables: rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, and total incoming solar radiation are important meteorological variables should be monitored near the FMU during the season. In regions dominated by rainfed agriculture, reliable rainfall data assists farmers in taking measures against crop water stress (by supplemental irrigation). Meteorological variables can be measured by automatic weather stations, which measure a comprehensive set of variables, or by simple rain gauges that measure only rainfall.
  2. Soil moisture: This variable represents the amount of water in the soil, and is a critical factor to crop growth and productivity. Similar to meteorological information, monitoring spatio-temporal variation in soil moisture at different stages of the cropping season allows for measures to reduce chances of crop failure. Low levels of soil moisture may require irrigation (i.e., if no rains are coming). Soil moisture can be measured using field devices such as EM38 (Rodrigues et al., 2015).