Understanding water stress and its detection in plants

water stress
Table of Contents

In the ongoing quest for innovation and efficiency in agriculture, we face challenges that require precise and accessible solutions. One such challenge is plant water stress, an issue that can seriously affect crop productivity if not managed properly. Within this context, the question arises: Is it possible to detect water stress independent of plant vigor? Join us as we delve into this question and understand how technology allows us to effectively address it.

Can Water Stress Be Detected Independent of Plant Vigor?

The world of agriculture and precision technology is full of challenges and possibilities. A common concern among those approaching these technologies for the first time is the accuracy of available tools. Are they truly effective? Do they provide relevant and useful information for the farmer? In this article, we’ll explore a particular case related to water stress and how its detection can vary regardless of the vigor of the plant.

The Challenge

The summer of 2022 brought with it record high temperatures in Extremadura, a region not typically experiencing such extreme heat peaks. This heatwave posed a challenge for the region’s farmers, as monitoring moisture in their crops became a top priority.

Facing this, many farmers turned to indicators like the NDMI, which detects moisture levels in vegetation using satellite images. However, we noticed that two different crop varieties displayed very distinct water statuses according to the NDMI. The reason? The differing vigor between the two varieties. The more vigorous variety also showed higher moisture, which didn’t necessarily mean it was suffering less from water stress.

The Solution

Faced with this challenge, our agronomy team at HEMAV developed the LWS (Layer Water Stress) index, a new metric that evaluates the moisture level of vegetation while taking into account its vigor. With the LWS index, it was possible to detect water stress independent of the plant’s vigor level. This new approach allowed for a more direct and accurate assessment of crop varieties.

Towards a Sustainable Future

The LWS index is more than a tool; it’s a pathway to more sustainable and efficient agriculture. By helping farmers better detect water-related issues, we contribute to more efficient and responsible use of our water supplies. This is crucial, as agriculture is the largest user of freshwater, accounting for an average of 70% of all surface water supplies, according to Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

Aiming to make precision tools increasingly accurate, at HEMAV we come closer every day to a responsible and prosperous agricultural industry.

The LWS index plays a crucial role by allowing us to focus on those plots showing signs of water stress. Thanks to the precise data we gather from satellites, we can calculate a more accurate crop coefficient, and combined with weather forecasts, we can set up a more efficient irrigation schedule. All these elements come together in our irrigation advisory panel, an indispensable tool for our clients.

In summary, water stress is a challenge that demands precise and effective solutions. The tools and techniques we develop and employ directly impact our ability to farm sustainably and efficiently. Through a better understanding and management of water stress, we can ensure our agriculture is not only productive but also sustainable and environmentally conscious.


In conclusion, the use of precision tools like the LWS index demonstrates that it’s possible to detect water stress independent of plant vigor. This advancement not only improves efficiency and productivity in agriculture but also plays a crucial role in promoting water sustainability. By aiding farmers in detecting and managing water stress more effectively, we can contribute to a more responsible use of our water resources and the creation of a more sustainable future for all.

water stress
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