Determination of unfavorable conditions for plant growth and deviations of their normal development are one the most important tasks of agricultural monitoring. Operational control of the normal vegetative development of crops in large farm areas can be improved by satellite imagery analytics.
Satellite monitoring can help a farmer solve many problems. Among the main ones is timely informing the farmer about the state of the soil, the uniformity of crops, and the stress state of plants, and much more. The information obtained can be used to assess the field productivity, field activities planning, and yield forecasting. There are now plenty of digital platforms that allow for satellite imagery download and analysis particularly for agricultural purposes. More so, there are even specific agri-based satellite constellations, like EOS SAT, aimed to improve the accuracy of remote farm management.
In this piece we will explain how satellite monitoring works in agriculture and what benefits it offers to modern farmers.
When studying agricultural lands, the source of information is the radiation emanating from them, fixed by high-resolution spectrometers installed on satellites. The spectral reflection of agricultural crops is individual and differs in the specificity of the reflection of different wavelengths. Knowing the reflectivity of a plant, it is possible to identify it on spectral images and assess its condition.
Shooting is carried out in several spectral ranges. Photosynthetic activity leads to lower reflectance values in the red region of the spectrum and higher values in the near infrared spectrum. To process and interpret images, spectral vegetation indices are used that take into account the cloudiness, shadows, difference in shooting angle, environmental influences, etc.
Images of many research satellites are freely available on the Internet via different sources, but to interpret them and pull out the necessary data for further use is almost impossible without vegetation indices.
There is farm management software that offers automatically analyzed satellite imagery to farmers based on AI algorithms. One of such tools is Crop Monitoring. You can find out more via https://eos.com/products/crop-monitoring/.
One of the main advantages of using satellite monitoring is the possibility of comparative analysis of data over a long period of time. The survey of the same territories can be carried out for years with a frequency of once every few days. This allows for considering the dynamics of yield for individual fields and plots over several years, comparing farming methods with the harvest obtained at the end of the season, resulting in better decision-making.
For large farms with a land bank of thousands of hectares, satellite monitoring allows for receiving operational information from the entire area. With the help of satellite pictures, problem areas of the field are determined. Monitoring results replace field observations and make it possible to assess the state of use of territories, identify crop types, determine the dynamics of biomass growth, and detect deviations in time.
Processing of multispectral images will report nitrogen deficiency and the need for fertilizer and pesticides in specific parts of the field. It will also help to find out the degree of crop maturity, predict yield, analyze the efficiency of irrigation, and more.
The results of remote sensing are not able to give an exhaustive causal analysis of the state of agrocenosis. Monitoring does not replace the need for field research, soil sampling, and other measures to monitor the condition of crops. But it makes planning them much easier by pointing out problem areas for smart scouting, which saves time and money.
Monitoring fields with the help of satellites and other equipment for precision farming can be considered one of the most economical and affordable options for agronomists. Satellite imagery and digital tools for its analysis used in precision agriculture enable farmers to recognize problems, decide which method to apply in the target area, and determine the best time to do so. Basic technologies of precision farming include:
Farm software that utilizes satellite images can be used to create accurate farm plans, field maps, yield analysis, yield maps, and determine the exact amount of inputs needed. Among the advantages of this method of precision farming in agriculture is that it allows farmers to use the VRA approach to create an environmentally friendly, sustainable, farming plan, which in turn helps to reduce costs and increase yields.
Satellite pictures in precision farming help identify factors that can stress a crop at a particular time in order to estimate the amount of moisture in the soil. Besides, compared to drone data, satellite imagery is more accessible and versatile.
Precision farming is a synergy of various technological solutions that can help significantly increase yields and manage agribusiness better. And satellite imagery analysis is a great tool in the hands of any modern farmer who strives for sustainability and effectiveness.