Scientists launch new interactive tool for agricultural water management and climate risk assessment

A powerful new crop management tool has been launched today, to enable farmers, businesses, and governments to make more informed decisions about water management, irrigation investments, and climate risks.

With the return of hosepipe bans in the UK and severe drought currently affecting many parts of Europe and elsewhere in the world, it’s more important than ever to understand how we can grow more food while minimising pressures on freshwater resources and ecosystems.

To this end, the Agriculture, Water, and Climate Group at The University of Manchester and Development Seed are launching AquaPlan. AquaPlan is an interactive web tool that allow users to quickly and easily assess how crop yields and water demands are affected by different management practices and climate scenarios anywhere in the world.

Dr Tim Foster said: “Crop models are incredibly powerful tools to help agriculture adapt to growing pressures posed by water scarcity and climate change. However, these models require a lot of time and specialist expertise to implement which has often limited their use outside of research projects. AquaPlan provides a practical tool to overcome these challenges, putting state-of-the-art modelling tools in the hands of farmers, practitioners, and policymakers working to improve food and water security globally.”

AquaPlan combines a proven scientific modelling tools, automated data integration, cloud processing, and an intuitive interface to support real-world agricultural water management and climate adaptation. Under the hood, AquaPlan leverages an open-source crop-water model, AquaCrop-OSPy, developed over the past 10 years by researchers in the Agriculture, Water, and Climate Group at The University of Manchester in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The tool is ideally suited for regions where water is a limiting factor in crop production, an increasing problem facing food systems all around the world. AquaPlan enables users to automatically integrate weather and soil data from trusted open-source datasets and view model outputs in an accessible and interactive interface, all with just a few clicks in the browser. The result is a powerful tool that provides farmers, agronomists, water managers, and other end users with crop modeling capabilities previously only accessible to highly trained researchers and scientists.

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