Role of Satellite Image in Modern Farming

Al Ardh Alkhadra > Blog > Agriculture > Role of Satellite Image in Modern Farming

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Farming more often has an image of an industry that is slow to change. It has an image that follows centuries-old antique practices. This opinion is not entirely wrong; however, the agriculture industry has embraced leading technological advances in the past few years. Modern farming practices are employing these advancements in powerful and innovative ways. The widespread nature of GPS technology coupled with satellite image in the modern age has drastically improved the capacity and abilities of both agricultural researchers and farm/ranch managers.

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A modern-day farmer can monitor the evaporation levels in the crops and deliver the precise amount of water from a desk at the farm headquarters without the risk of overwatering or underwatering them. Consequently, it has reduced the wastage of water. They can monitor changes across the harvesting season for fields. The power of satellite images comes from the colossal satellite imagery data that is now readily available.

Satellite Data Image and Related Products

Google has compiled the largest publicly accessible database of satellite images globally and has made the data available and usable through Google Earth, Google Maps, and Google Earth Engine. These programs allow users to create, analyze and view image data to improve research on the land trends, management history, and land uses, besides other factors.

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Google has compiled the satellite data, but they do not manage or own any satellites. Google purchases or acquires satellite data to use in its mapping products from the U.S. government and other private satellite operations companies that manage the satellites themselves. While several private companies are entering the satellite ownership and operations business, the U.S. Federal government has been operating the Landsat satellite program for the last fifty years.

These cameras capture images and spectral imaging data. Vegetation monitoring and several other calculations make use of this data. Research and web tool development in different agricultural sectors use this globally available public data.

What is Satellite Image Data?

All satellites and their respective image data are different. The companies and governments that operate satellites have different purposes, and the data they capture becomes available at different time scales and spatial resolutions. The compilations of millions of pixels that relate to a distance on earth form the Satellite data. A pixel can denote one square meter of the ground space. It can be 30 sqm, 1sqkm, or even larger. However, every year, the technology gets better, and spatial resolutions capabilities are now reaching square centimeter resolution levels.

The temporal measure of satellite data is very much relevant. As of ow the Landsat satellites, for example, circle the earth every 16 days. Consequently, you can get an estimate of a specific change only every two weeks or so. Many other data products like land-use data that use satellite images are only created annually.

Satellite Image for Precision Agriculture

The inclusion of precision agriculture into farm management is one common application of remote sensing. It enables the farmer to use remote sensing and on-farm data and complex algorithms that convert them into production estimates to inform input decisions, such as variable-rate fertilizer application rates or optimal watering amounts. These methods are helping farmers globally to be more strategic in their allocation of expensive or scarce resources and prioritize sustainability and profit simultaneously.

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Research studies are progressing on how to match the organic carbon in-ground soil estimates with satellite images. This will be the best method to estimate changes in carbon stocks over a period of time while minimizing the costs of the ground sampling. The carbon market companies and researchers, and agency personnel from the USDA and universities are exploring these efforts.

Satellite Image – Harnessing the Power of Space

Globally, the agricultural industry makes good use of satellite image data and remote sensing. It helps them to make decisions, understand changes, and estimate future conditions. Researchers and industry professionals use these spatial data to forecast changes to meet under different management strategies. Additionally, these spatial data have extreme importance for understanding climate conditions and market pressures like forecasting commodity price data.

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The technology around satellite imagery and remote sensing is rapidly developing. There are new private industry actors and innovations all the time. The spatial data becomes less and less aggregated across space and time, and cloud storage capacities and computing increase. Consequently, the satellite image products are assured of seeing massive improvements in their capabilities and accuracy.

Usage of Satellite Image for Remote Sensing

The spectral light measurements and capturing images from space can be pretty valuable as a standalone product. Still, these data become incredibly powerful when they are combined with on-the-ground monitoring points. This process, known as remote sensing, is where satellite imagery data are matched with ground samples such as weather station data, soil samples, and vegetation surveys to create condition estimates at various spatial scales. As a result, you can estimate conditions in locations where earlier no on-the-ground measurement was taken. As technology continues to improve, The abilities and the power of remote sensing are growing rapidly as the technology progresses.

Benefits of Satellite Images in Agriculture

  • Precision data collection, soil sampling, and data analysis enable localized chemical applications and planting density to suit specific field areas. 
  • Accurate field navigation can minimize redundant applications and skipped areas. It enables the maximum ground coverage in the minimum possible time. 
  • The ability to work through low visibility field conditions such as rain, dust, fog, and darkness increases productivity. 
  • Elimination of the need for human “flaggers” increases spray efficiency and minimizes over-spray.

Satellite Image – Role of GIS  in Agriculture

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools coupled with web resources can assist farmers in conducting crop forecasting. They can help farmers to manage their agriculture production by utilizing multispectral satellite images. You can get the various vegetation soil indices to identify crop stress from these data. The ability of GIS to visualize and analyze agricultural environments and workflows is proving very beneficial to stakeholders in the farming industry.

You can review vegetation and soil index images in Google Earth Pro in the absence of agriculture management software. This way, the regional farmers can identify areas in the fields that require closer analysis. They can use these data to decide if additional irrigation or fertilization of the crop is required. Implementation of precision agriculture or site-specific farming becomes possible using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology.

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GPS technology combined with tracking system enables the gathering of real-time data collection with accurate position information, leading to the efficient manipulation and analysis of collected data. You can use service for precision farming, field planning, yield mapping, and tractor guidance. Such information allows farmers to achieve effective soil/plant treatment strategies which can enhance production.

Satellite Image – Role of GPS in Agriculture

GPS technology helps to work during low visibility conditions, such as rain, fog, and darkness. Precision agriculture is rapidly growing due to the introduction of high technology tools into the agricultural community. Precision farming is more accurate, cost-effective, and user-friendly. With the assistance of a GPS tracking system, farmers can have the benefits of micromanaging their fields. Precision agriculture benefits are available not only for large farms with huge capital investments and experience but also for new business starters. Using a tracking system is an inexpensive, feature-rich, and easy-to-use solution.

Manufacturers of GPS equipment have developed several tools to help farmers and agribusinesses become more productive and efficient in their precision farming activities. The accuracy of GPS allows farmers to create farm maps with precise markings for field areas, road locations, and distances between points of interest. It will enable farmers to navigate to specific sites in the field year after year, collect soil samples, or accurately monitor crop conditions. GPS receivers collect the location information for mapping roads, field boundaries, irrigation systems, and problem areas of crops such as weeds or disease.

Crop dusters equipped with GPS devices can spread swaths accurately over the field, applying chemicals only where needed, minimizing chemical drift, reducing the number of chemicals required, thereby benefiting the environment and more accurate materials usage. Farmers can expect even further improvements as the tracking system continues to modernize.

Future Role of Satellite Image in Agriculture

More prominent corporate players are looking to buy and lease out different farming operations around the country. The satellite imagery and remote sensing products prove essential in these decisions for understanding historical management and conditions. Consequently, with the power of time-series satellite imagery and remote sensing products, you can combine the knowledge of the farmers and farm managers with satellite data to tell a complete history of the farm and give investors confidence in the operation’s capacity.

Satellite image and remote sensing technology assist farm managers and modern farmers in keeping track of conditions and monitoring growth, weather, and carbon. As the farms grow bigger in size, the satellite images give relevant data with newfound ease and surprising accuracy. While these products aren’t perfect, they are improving every day and making day-to-day farm management simpler. They can help managers demonstrate their conservation and management efforts in an easily understandable and visually appealing way.

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