A team at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has been awarded a $900,000 grant by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through a program that supports the conservation of private lands through funding projects centered in technology and innovation. The Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program awarded a total of $12.5 million in 2019 to 19 different projects addressing areas including water quantity, urban agriculture, pollinator habitat, and accelerating the pace and scale of conservation adoption. The goal of the program is to foster innovation to provide solutions to the most pressing issues facing farmers today, using science to support agricultural conservation and sustainability.
UH’s project, entitled “Forecasting daily reference evapotranspiration and rainfall for water resources conservation and sustainable agriculture,” is led by principal investigators Dr. Sayed Bateni of the College of Engineering and the Water Resources Research Center (WRRC), Dr. Jonathan Deenik and Jensen Uyeda of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and Dr. Aly El-Kadi of the School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology and WRRC. The team aims to demonstrate how farmers can conserve water and be more effective in utilizing water resources by utilizing an innovative new method to model and forecast daily rainfall and evaporation in irrigation areas. The approach centers on use of an artificial neural network that breaks down complex long-term time-series into simpler units, providing more accurate forecasting.