High-resolution satellite imagery to assess orchard characteristics impacting water use - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Agricultural Water Management Year : 2024

High-resolution satellite imagery to assess orchard characteristics impacting water use


Most Orchards throughout the Mediterranean basin rely heavily on irrigation, a dependency increasing due to climate changes. Assessing the water requirement (WR) is crucial and depends on different factors, including orchard age, tree density per field, inter-row management. This study proposes new methods to evaluate these characteristics with remote sensing (RS). Various remote sensors providing high and very high spatial resolution images are investigated and their accuracy is assessed. The final objective is to assess WR using variables derived from remote sensing compared to data provided by water managers and from the FAO method. A typical Mediterranean watershed was selected in South-Eastern France, with orchards having various agricultural practices. Original methods were developed with Sentinel 2 (S2) data (2016-2023), 1 Pleiades image (2022) and the extraction of Google-satellite-hybrid images (GSH, 2017), and assessed using a large ground observation dataset (information on water use collected on 366 fields). Five orchards were monitored by capacitive sensors to assess the water balance. Irrigation durations ranged from 3-300 hours/year, with decision influenced by tree density and plot age. To identify young orchards, a thresholding approach on S2 derived NDVI effectively identified young orchards achieving a 98% accuracy rate. Grassed and non-grassed orchards were mapped using two methods, with a random forest classification using three spectral bands with 72% accuracy and a supervised approach yielding 81% accuracy for GSH and 57% for Pleiades. The performance depends on the acquisition date of images. A pattern detection algorithm applied to GSH and Pleaides determined tree density, showing a high correlation (r2=0.9) with observed data. These RS derived variables allowed to compute orchard water requirements at the watershed scale, ranging from 70 to 550 mm annually depending on management practices. The proposed methods can be extrapolated to other territories and are implemented using open access softwares.

Dates and versions

hal-04620702 , version 1 (21-06-2024)



Pierre Rouault, Dominique Courault, Fabrice Flamain, Guillaume Pouget, Claude Doussan, et al.. High-resolution satellite imagery to assess orchard characteristics impacting water use. Agricultural Water Management, 2024, 295, pp.108763. ⟨10.1016/j.agwat.2024.108763⟩. ⟨hal-04620702⟩
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