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An Innovative Remote Sensing Based Reference Evapotranspiration Method to Support Irrigation Water Management Under Semi-Arid Conditions

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Reference evapotranspiration (ETo) is an essential component of irrigation water management due to it being a basic input for estimating crop water requirements. A new alternative approach called MA + LSE based on the Makkink-Advection (MAK-Adv) equation in combination with remotely sensed solar radiation and a numerical weather forecast of near surface air temperature has provided good estimates of ETo under different weather conditions in a semi-arid region located in Southern Spain, without requiring local meteorological data. In order to evaluate the utility of the MA + LSE approach for irrigation water management, some well-known methods for ETo assessment (Penman-Monteith PM-FAO56) and the MA + LSE approach were considered for the development of irrigation schedules in ten irrigation schemes located in a semi-arid region in Southern Spain. These results confirm the applicability of the MA + LSE approach, especially in areas where meteorological data are missing or inaccurate, obtaining a similar performance for irrigation water management to that of other approaches with high data requirements such as PM-FAO56.