The use of modern satellite technologies in agriculture makes it possible to see the complete picture of farmland. This opportunity enables farmers to optimize the use of production resources and increase future yields thanks to precise field management and reliable decision-making based on accurate data.
The traditional way of physically collecting data out on the fields is too expensive and requires much more time and effort compared to using satellite data. Thankfully, modern satellites can take pictures of fields with an average rate of every 3-5 days. And these images can tell agri entrepreneurs a lot about the state of crops on their fields, helping them make better-informed decisions, save time and cut costs. Let’s see what kinds of field-related data can be retrieved thanks to satellite imagery and what benefits it offers the farming industry.
The Use of Satellite Data in Farming
The main advantage of using satellite data lies in the automated and remote analysis of fields and the ability to transform this data into various digital field maps based on the retrieved information. Here are some really useful types of data that can be obtained and analyzed based on satellite images:
- Regularly updated satellite data allows farmers to monitor their crops health with the help of vegetation indices. The most commonly used of those is the NDVI, providing reliable assumptions about crop conditions during the entire growing period, based on the green biomass ratio estimation. Thanks to this, farmers can assess the state of crops remotely, and identify the areas of cold stress, early drought, areas of plant death from diseases, insects or pesticide contamination.
- Based on satellite imagery data, field maps can be created and used for detailed distribution of seed, fertilizers, pesticides, and water across the field. This helps farmers to save costs on equipping machinery with a mapping terminal.
- Satellites also enable assessing the soil moisture. Specially developed algorithms are used by different tools to measure the top 5 cm of soil under moderate vegetation to obtain the estimates of soil moisture and precipitation. For instance, with the NDMI index you can predict water stress to take appropriate prevention measures at an early point.
- Satellite imagery is also used to identify growth stages of plants throughout the entire growing season according to the BBCH scale. Each stage is calculated by a complex formula, deciphering the crop type and taking into account the historical vegetation data for this particular crop. This information allows farmers to more accurately assess crops health based on its current growth stage, and treat it accordingly.
- A huge advantage of using satellite data is the retrospectiveness. Farmers can assess field information for several years to compare current and historic data to determine the most and the least productive zones within a field or make accurate yield predictions.
- Satellite data is also really helpful in autonomous field productivity zones identification. In the past, the only way of assessing soil productivity was to take several soil samples for an expensive agrochemical analysis to determine how productivity varies in different parts of the field. Now, satellite data allows modelling field productivity maps based on the NDVI changes in different parts of the field, saving farmers tons of time and significantly reducing costs.
The best way to start leveraging satellite imagery for field monitoring is to use online tools specifically designed to integrate large amounts of field data on one platform. Crop Monitoring by EOS offers its users multiple features, successfully integrating satellite imagery, vegetation indices, and weather data. The platform enables remote field management, offering access to all the types of data listed above. Users get information on vegetation, soil moisture, growth stages, current and historical weather, and more. Crop Monitoring comes in two versions, including an easy-to-use scouting app for a more accurate online field management. More information about the product can be found on EOSDA company’s website.
Satellite monitoring keeps gaining more and more recognition in agriculture being used by farmers worldwide. These remote sensing technologies have already revolutionized the industry and laid the foundation for a new type of crop productivity management system known as precision farming. With field maps based on satellite data, farmers can accurately calculate the size of the area needed for planting and the amount of seeds, fertilizers, water, and other resources that are required to ensure a healthy crop growth. Farmers can remotely observe the development of plants, monitor the condition of crops and soils, discover previously unseen trends, and apprehend future events.
There are obviously plenty of advantages to using satellite data in modern farming, since using this data significantly improves the decision-making process, increases the reaction speed, and reveals previously unseen patterns. Cutting-edge technology provides, via on-the-fly processing and analytics, multiple benefits, generates valuable insights, and, ultimately, lets farmers cut costs and save time.