Due to the constantly growing world population, the agriculture of the future should meet several basic criteria, the main ones being environmental friendliness, yield optimization, economic efficiency, and resistance to diseases and pests.
This forms the basis for the concept of sustainable agriculture. The main trend that supports this concept is the introduction of new technologies into farming practices. And that is exactly what precision farming does.
One of the main technologies for precision farming is the use of satellite data for monitoring the current state of crops. This makes agriculture one of the main consumers of satellite-retrieved data. But why does agriculture need space-driven data in the first place, considering farmers have been growing crops without any geospatial technologies for millenia. The answer is the growing demand for food due to the world’s growing population. More and more food needs to be produced while using less land to preserve resources. This means getting the highest possible yields without increasing expenses. To achieve that, farmers nowadays can’t go without precision farming practices, which involves remote fields monitoring, allowing to easily access and analyze data for differential fertilization, irrigation and much more, which ultimately saves resources and reduces costs, contributing to higher yields.
The Use of Satellite Data in Farming
Precision farming tools include the use of satellites and UAVs for the monitoring of crops health and analyzing the long-term data. The main goal of using satellites in field management is to identify non-uniform areas within the field. This makes it possible to optimize the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and water resources, as well as apply differential sowing. The best way to enjoy the benefits of satellite monitoring for a farmer is to use a tool that provides access to previously analyzed satellite imagery. An interesting example of such tools is Crop Monitoring by EOS.
Modern satellites are capable of providing geospatial imagery often enough to allow the farmer to see the dynamics of crop development within the boundaries of every field that he or she wants to monitor. In fact, with a help of on-the-fly spectral index calculations, such as NDVI, satellites can provide data about specific problem areas within each field.
This not only saves time and effort but also contributes to the sustainability of the farm overall: in case of any threats, the farmer will receive a warning and will be able to minimize their negative impact. Ultimately, the quality of agricultural products, the amount of crop yields and farmer’s profits are bound to increase.
How Satellites Help with Field Monitoring
According to the article by SciJinks, satellites have much to offer for agriculture thanks to geospatial imagery-based field monitoring. But the pictures in-and-of-themselves taken by satellites are not enough to see what’s going on in the field. It’s almost impossible for the farmers to analyze those images by simply viewing them. That is why various tools are used to extract data from satellite imagery through processing and analytics, using different algorithms. Let’s take a look at how exactly this is done.
Numerous satellites currently orbit the Earth. Different satellites offer images with different resolutions, depending on their technical characteristics. Besides, satellites take pictures with different frequencies. Besides, the frequencies with which the satellites take their pictures can vary a lot. The tools that process and analyze the images primarily rely on spectral indices, calculating, for example, the amount of green biomass in the field at various stages of development. So, how can farmers benefit from this technology?
Agricultural satellite land monitoring offers the following benefits:
- Assessment of crops health
- Vegetation analysis
- Control of irrigation, fertilization, pesticides application, and harvesting
- Weather monitoring
- Access to soil moisture data
- Prediction of the future yield
- Land assessment before seed planting
- Real-time field data
Space monitoring is used when it is necessary to:
- Determine which category agricultural crops belong to (cereals, vegetables, oilseeds, industrial, etc.)
- Determine the degree of germination of shoots or ripeness
- Make a yield forecast based on the current state of crops
- Control the seed rate for crops sowing
- Monitor the effectiveness of any crop treatment
- Identify soil erosion, waterlogging, and salinization in a timely manner
- Detect weather-related threats beforehand
- Cover a large area and monitor multiple distant lands
Besides, large agricultural companies use satellite imagery data for autopiloting and parallel driving, tracking equipment movement in the field, and controlling differential fertilization. And smaller farms need space technologies to solve more routine tasks: irrigation, fertilization, crops health monitoring, and land assessment to make effective management decisions, thus optimizing costs.
The main benefits of using remote sensing data for farmers are:
- Reduced expenses on human and technical resources
- Environmental benefits
- Better product quality
- Increased yields
- Better working conditions and safety
- Improved control over the field and crops within the growing season
- Reduces cost of insurance services
One of the tools that can help farmers enjoy those benefits is Crop Monitoring by EOS. The tool leverages satellite monitoring to offer maximum efficiency in field management practices. Retrieving spatial imagery, the platform analyzes it with its own algorithms to provide growers with detailed information on the planted area and crop health.
Platform options include crops analysis based on vegetation indices, weather data, soil moisture data, remote scouting management, precise fertilizers / pesticides and water application. Besides, the users can see their fields automatically sorted out by productivity, based on vegetation changes.
All the amazing benefits described above prove that satellites and farming go together perfectly, improving decision-making at every step of the farming season with the highest accuracy. Greater use of digital agricultural services is important not only because it can improve the financial performance of agricultural producers, but also to ensure farming will be able to meet the world’s growing population’s need for food.