History and Evaluation of Hargreaves Evapotranspiration Equation


A brief history of development of the 1985 Hargreaves equation and its comparison to evapotranspiration (ET) predicted by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Penman-Monteith method are described to provide background and information helpful in selecting an appropriate reference ET equation under various data situations. Early efforts in irrigation water requirement computations in California and other arid and semiarid regions required the development of simplified ET equations for use with limited weather data. Several initial efforts were directed towards improving the usefulness of pan evaporation for estimating irrigation water requirements. Similarity with climates of other countries allowed developments in California to be extended overseas. Criticism of empirical methods by H. L. Penman and others encouraged the search for a robust and practical method that was based on readily available climatic data for computing potential evapotranspiration or reference crop evapotranspiration (ETo). One of these efforts ultimately culminated in the 1985 Hargreaves ETo method. The 1985 Hargreaves ETo method requires only measured temperature data, is simple, and appears to be less impacted than Penman-type methods when data are collected from arid or semiarid, nonirrigated sites. For irrigated sites, the Hargreaves 1985 ETo method produces values for periods of five or more days that compare favorably with those of the FAO Penman-Monteith and California Irrigation Management Information Services (CIMIS) Penman methods. The Hargreaves ETo predicted 0.97 of lysimeter measured ETo at Kimberly, Idaho after adjustment of lysimeter data for differences in surface conductance from the FAO Penman-Monteith definition. Monthly ETo by the 1985 Hargreaves equation compares closely with ETo calculated using a simplified, “reduced-set” Penman-Monteith that requires air temperature data only.