Meteorological drought indices associated with soil moisture status have potential for varying applications including predictive power for crop yields estimation. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) was initially developed to estimate forest flammability, based on quantification of the moisture deficiency in upper soil layer as a function of daily precipitation and maximum air temperature. In this study, we characterized the utility of KBDI to accurately trace and monitor vegetation change and crop yield fluctuation in a semi-arid environment. It is tried to find any temporal association for both the 16-day MODIS-derived NDVI and KBDI from 2002 to 2012 and the correlation between KBDI and wheat and barley yield from 1984 to 2010. Correlation between KBDI and NDVI showed a general seasonal pattern with strongest correlation in mid-growing season, but this varied across study locations. Warmer locations with very sparse vegetation showed weaker association between KBDI and NDVI. Although a robust correlation between KBDI and winter cereal crop yield was not achieved based on winter (wet and cold season) data, spring cereal crop yield was correlated with KBDI.
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We would like to thank K. Grace Crummer (Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, University of Florida) for editing the manuscript to improve the language.
Calculation of KBDI
To calculate the index, daily maximum temperature and precipitation data for a 20-year period (1990–2010) for the stations of the study area (Table 1 and Fig. 1) were collected. KBDI was then calculated as follows in C# programming language.
where DF is drought factor on a given day in the metric system (Janis et al. 2002), TMAX t is the daily maximum temperature (° C), R is the average annual rainfall in each region (cm), and KBDI t − 1 is the Keetch-Byram drought index for time t-1 (the day before) and P t is the daily precipitation (mm) (Janis et al. 2002). The initialization of the KBDI is crucial; it traditionally begins when a few consecutive days of rain occur and soil saturation is reached, but it should be noted that field capacity (ability to absorb water) of arable land varies according to soil and vegetation changes.
The drought increment on a given day, called the drought factor, is determined by (1) the mean annual rainfall for the study location, (2) the drought index of yesterday, and (3) the maximum temperature for today. Reduction in drought occurs only whenever the 24-h rainfall exceeds 0.20 in. (Keetch and Byram 1968). This index is a continuous reference scale to evaluate the dryness of the soil. The KBDI assumes that soil should be at field capacity through first 20 cm of soil depth. In order to increase the accuracy of the KBDI values, the application we developed allows the user to select different soil types. Soil saturation varies by geographic region but may be reached during lengthy precipitation events (Janis et al. 2002). For different soil types, the required depth of soil to hold 8 in. of moisture varies (for example, loam = 30% and clay = 25%). Though Keetch and Byram (1968) suggested that 150–200 mm of precipitation in a week is prolonged sufficient for initialization, this value does not work in semiarid regions. In this study region, total amount of precipitation for a year is about 250 mm distributed across 6 months. Therefore, we had to modify the initialization of KBDI in our region. So, the amount of precipitation to initialize the KBDI was defined as the amount of water needed to increase soil moisture up to field capacity to a depth of 20 cm.
Software description and use
Once downloaded, the application developed here for KBDI in installed by using InstallShield to guide the user through the install. It is free for users of all Visual Studio editions except the Express editions. Input files must follow 3-column format: Year string, maximum temperature, and precipitation values. For missing data, a zero will work, but not a missing data flag or − 9999. More details on preparation of input data files are available in the help file of the application. The application consists of a home screen with a main menu containing all the tabs related to the calculations. In the field capacity option, the user can select one of the numbers depending on soil type and moisture of the study area. The application is developed for agricultural study, particularly cereals. The depth of soil in which major part of root penetrates and absorbs water and nutrient, is assumed 20 cm. In the application (Field Capacity Option), users can select soil type, so the amount of precipitation to start KBDI will be determined. In the output file, KBDI for the selected period shows the daily format of data output. This application allows the user to save files into excel format at every stage, and can plot, graph or map all output data. The Help tab contains a video file demonstrating all analysis steps and explaining all tabs and icons for the user.
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Salehnia, N., Zare, H., Kolsoumi, S. et al. Predictive value of Keetch-Byram Drought Index for cereal yields in a semi-arid environment. Theor Appl Climatol 134, 1005–1014 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-017-2315-2