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Nevada Farmers, Others Could Benefit From New Agriculture/Space Partnership

Two federal agencies are teaming up in effort to help farmers in Nevada and other parts of the county better predict and prepare for an increasingly dry future.

Farm industry officials in Nevada say a more innovative and accurate drought response system can help production efforts going forward. That's where a new partnership between the US Department of Agriculture and NASA comes in. The agencies are expanding the use of satellite technology to gather data on soil moisture and create space-borne maps showing drought effects in specific regions.

"We can’t manufacture more soil. We can’t make it rain more. But if we can better manage our soil and water resources we can increase our production efficiencies and prepare for the future.”

That's Clint Koble with the Farm Service Agency in Reno. He says that by the year 2030, the nation's agricultural industry must increase production by nearly 70 percent to keep up with population demands. He adds that a more efficient drought monitoring system will only benefit food producers in this capacity.

According to officials at the USDA, these images will also help Forest Service firefighters and first-responders better detect wildfires and predict their behavior. 

Esther Ciammachilli is a former part-time broadcaster at KUNR Public Radio.