Agriculture is a constantly evolving process with plenty of new technologies to help manage and optimize crop growth. One pillar to help farmers improve crop production is the concept of precision farming and the use of satellite imagery to help determine where and how much intervention is needed.
In this extensive article, I want to take a look at what exactly precision agriculture entails, how satellite imagery works, which benefits they provide, and lastly what the future has in store. In the following, I also highlight relevant information for farmers, who might consider using this technology. A huge thanks to the whole team from Eos.com for providing great insights and some amazing images!
Table of Contents
What is Precision Agriculture?
Before diving into the nitty-gritty of this topic, let’s define what precision agriculture actually is. Directly from the International Society of Precision Agriculture:
‘Precision agriculture is a management strategy that gathers, processes and analyzes temporal, spatial and individual data and combines it with other information to support management decisions according to estimated variability for improved resource use efficiency, productivity, quality, profitability and sustainability of agricultural production.’
This definition is quite a mouthful, let’s try to make it a bit easier to understand: Precision agriculture is a farm management strategy, which seeks to optimize crop production using observable data. Thus reducing external resource input (fertilizer, water, land, pesticides) to improve field yields, plant quality, and sustainability.
Precision agriculture uses a huge variety of observational systems to gather as much information as possible. Some examples include:
- Satellite Imagery
- GPS-Managed Machinery (e.g., tractors)
- In-field (nutrients) tests
- Weather observation
- Farming Robots
- Machine Learning
The benefits for large farming operations are quite obvious, but how about small-scale farms, which rarely exceed 1-10 acres? Elements of Precision agriculture have been a gold standard for anyone growing crops. Observing the weather, managing soil nutrients, and observing crop development are essential parts of a farmer’s job, regardless of operation size. Precision agriculture simply seeks to improve the decision-making reliability; however not all technologies are applicable for small-scale farms, but even small operations can see huge benefits from the ones that are!
One such technology might be Satellite Imagery. Let’s take a close look at how Satellite Imagery is used in precision agriculture and which benefits it has to offer.
How does Satellite Imagery in Farming work?
Let’s start by understanding how satellite imagery in farming works before tackling the actual benefits of this technology. If you aren’t interested in the technical details and only want to read about the potential upsides, then skip ahead to the next big section.
Satellite technology has been around since 1957 and the first earth-observation satellite (Landsat 1) was launched in 1972. We now have more than four decades worth of images of the earth. Constantly evolving camera technology now produces better, high-resolution images for the public.
Precision agriculture uses satellites to capture multiple types of light spectrums beyond the usual visual light (VIS). Let’s first take a look at which spectrums are commonly used!
Different Types of Satellite Spectroscopy:
One valuable Aspect of Satellite Imagery is the use of channels beyond the standard Red, Green, Blue. This helps to Highlight relevant information and reduce the impact of disruptive factors (like clouds).
VIS – visible light
VIS is the most common type of satellite imagery. It’s exactly like your google maps satellite option and shows the location from a birdseye view. Using this type of spectrum will visualize the earth and vegetation in mostly the same way you’d see them from an airplane.
This spectrum captures the reflected infrared light and helps to Highlight Vegetation. The near-infrared Spectrum can be found at a Wavelength between the upper 0,7μm to around 1,2μm. Healthy Plants with ample Chlorophyll have a higher Reflectance Rate (Darker Red) compared to stressed plants (lighter Red). Furthermore, Soil comes in a variety of brown tones, and clouds/snow appear white. Clearwater appears in dark blue and dirty brown water in cyan colors.
SWIR – Short-wave infrared
Short-wave infrared includes light on a wavelength between 1,1μm – 3 μm. This spectrum is primarily used to measure the water concentration in soil and plants. According to Mohamed et al. and Nasa, water absorbs SWIR light at a wavelength around 1,4/1,9/2,4 μm. This layer builds the foundation of the NDWI, which we will touch on shortly!
NDVI – Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
The NDVI plays a vital role in agricultural satellite imagery and helps to showcase differences in plant health over a whole field. To calculate NDVI, we use this formula (NIR – RED)/(NIR + RED), where RED is the reflected red range of the spectrum.
NDVI builds the backbone of satellite-managed farming, as it’s used to show where external inputs (fertilizer, water) are needed and which parts of the field are thriving. This data can also be used to make long-term decisions about crop rotation, soil management, and more.
NDWI – Normalized Difference Water Index
The NDWI or NDMI (Normalized Difference Moisture Index) finds application in the management of water stress in crops and soil. Long-term exposure to excessive amounts or lack of water can lead to yield reduction and plant death – The Normalized Difference Water Index is calculated with the following Formula: (NIR-SWIR)/(NIR+SWIR), where SWIR is set to a point in which water absorbs most of the reflection.
TIR – Thermal Infrared
Thermal Infrared (TIR or LWIR) includes wavelengths between 8,0-15,0 μm and in the context of satellite imagery, TIR helps to visualize temperature distribution. This spectrum is often depicted in grayscale but can also be color-coded. LWIR is mostly emitted and not reflected, which makes it possible to measure Thermal Infrared without the presence of the sun. Furthermore, TIR can also indicate the amount of water a plant uses by analyzing the temperature difference in fields caused by evapotranspiration.
SAR – Synthetic Aperture Radar
One of the recent developments in Satellite Observation Technology is Synthetic Aperture Radar, which for example can help to measure crop yields. The Wavelength of Radar Systems ranges from 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) to more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) and uses the reflection of pulses to calculate an accurate image of the surface below. SAR is not affected by clouds, making it an excellent supplementation to VIS and NIR.
As we now have all of the technical basics down, let’s see how and why satellite imagery can help farmers manage their fields.
Which Benefits does Satellite Imagery provide to Farmers?
Satellite Imagery helps Farmers to access a wide array of information, including remote sensing, crop monitoring, field mapping, field measuring, Input management, yield mapping, and weather-related factors.
Let’s go through all of these factors individually to evaluate if satellite imagery is actually useful to your operation!
Mapping and Measuring is an often overlooked benefit of satellite technology. The constant change in the natural environment can lead to slowly drifting field borders and minor changes in field size and shape. Satellite Measuring helps to identify the current dimensions of the field, which in turn is important for accurate input-cost calculations.
Furthermore, small shifts over a few years are barely noticeable but become apparent if you accurately track your fields over several decades. Granted, this is alone isn’t reason enough to spend the time setting up your fields in a satellite observation program but just a bonus for long-term use.
The next benefit, on the other hand, is a lot more useful in the short term. Elevation Mapping helps to identify the path water takes through the field, as well as potential sites of erosion and flooding. With the help of Elevation Maps, it’s a lot easier to prepare an emergency exit for water to prevent floods, or re-arrange the field such that erosion won’t continuously dig deeper trenches.
Then again, let’s be real here. You probably know rather well in which spots your field tends to flood. It’s a nice bonus but still not reason enough to consider buying this technology. Let’s get to the actual benefits of satellite observation software – Monitoring!
Monitoring, Planning, and observing are essential to managing your fields properly. We depend on many external factors like temperature, precipitation, and early warnings for pests or deficiencies. Even in a perfect year, we need to plan when we spray, harvest, and how much labor we need to hire. In short, we require a truckload of information every season – and most of it comes from widely different channels.
Satellite Technologies intends to change this, by combining all the important data into a single uncomplicated, interactive format. Thus helping us to focus our attention on the relevant parts – managing struggling fields. Like any other tool, Satellite Observation Technology isn’t the end all be all. There are certain limitations we will touch on later. It’s much rather a helpful guild with a variety of different monitoring systems. Let’s take a closer look!
Remote Sensing/Scouting for stress management of Crops
The most powerful application of Satellite Imagery in Agriculture is remote stress management of Crops. Minor differences in the NDVI-Score can be detected and analyzed to show potential areas at risk. Usually, stress-related damage doesn’t happen overnight, giving you a good headstart to intervene. Furthermore, satellites show very early stages of plant stress, which are almost impossible to pick up in person.
But it gets better! All the other data collected by the software can help you identify what the actual issue might be. Coupled with an in-field check of the struggling area, you can tell with high certainty what exactly went amiss. Over time, patterns will emerge, helping you focus on the underlying issue causing these problems.
Time management is another important factor for farmers to master. There is a lot of work involved in tending, maintaining, and preparing the fields to grow crops. Especially during emergencies like high heat stress and lack of precipitation. There are really only two ways to tell which field needs the most attention the fastest:
- Either you found out by losing a decent chunk of the yield in high-risk fields during a particularly harsh year or
- you rely on observational data to identify the fields that have been affected the most.
Fields and weather are in constant flux, making it even harder to predict stressed fields. Satellite Imagery tries to help in this endeavor by showing the most drastic change in NDVI (Indicator for plant health) between all your fields – making it a lot easier to choose where your action is needed the most.
Satellite Imagery allows for a more specific application of external Inputs. For example, nutrients are usually not equally depleted throughout the whole field. With the help of satellite data, you can plan to apply fertilizer where it is actually needed and not the entire field.
Moreover, satellite software often lets you plan exactly how much soil amendments are needed and automatically calculates the price according to current market rates – providing a clear overview of expenditures and reducing the total amount of input costs.
Yield Mapping and Growth Maps
Next up are Yield Mapping and Growth Maps. Both provide visual feedback on how a field performs during the growing season and after harvest.
Growth Maps help to discern field-specific from far-reaching factors. Furthermore, measuring and analyzing your fields provides a detailed growth curve for your land in particular. Certain crops follow divergent growth paths affected by external and field-related factors. Generating a plot-specific growth curve offers more relevant and accurate information for future crop planning.
Yield Maps are a helpful tool to predict the lucrativeness and total yield of your fields. They provide an early warning in harsh years and applicable feedback for field management over the years. In combination with the other tools provided by satellite imagery, Yield Maps can help to analyze degeneration of productivity per field and indicate possible causes.
Labor requirement planning
Tied to Yield Mapping and Crop Growth, is the possibility to manage needed labor requirements. Tight harvest windows and uncertain crop yields hamper labor assessment – with both over-and-under hiring leading to lost profits. Satellite Images provide a reliable insight into the current state of your fields, aiding the decision-making process.
Detailed time measurements of the harvesting process and optimal harvest-time planning, can help to optimize labor requirements and guide your labor team to harvest the fields according to their current health status.
Thermal Observation is another relevant factor to figure out, why plant stress might occur. Thermal Infrared Satellites are still a relatively new addition and require nearly perfect weather to be used on such a small scale. However, Satellite Observation Software usually imports local weather data to supplement missing information.
Temperature Data can help identify heat-caused stress on plants and alert for higher water needs of your field. Also, this data can be useful to deduce causes for reduced yields over one or multiple seasons.
Leaf Wetness observation (& Water stress detection)
NDWI is commonly used to identify water concentration in crop fields. Changes in NDWI value show reduced water levels in plants and help indicate optimal timing of water application. They might also help to identify field-wide disease outbreaks like root-rot, where water might be available but plants can’t absorb it anymore.
Water Observation can be separated into these categories:
- Precipitation in mm
- Root zone soil moisture in %
- Surface soil moisture in %
There are also some usages beyond observing plant stress related to water needs. For example, the water concentration in surface soil shows the path water takes during and after rain, highlighting possible erosion areas. High-risk areas for floods and soil loss can be identified and leveled with the help of the elevation map.
Water retainability, Field capacity, and Soil Drainage can all be inferred using NDWI data.
Evaporation & Transpiration
Evaporation & Transpiration provide insight into the current activity levels of your field. The process of photosynthesis releases water vapor around your plant’s leaves; thus higher humidity around your plant-live indicates healthy crops.
Using Evaporation & Transpiration data to calculate the flow rate of water in your plants presents you with an approximation of how much water needs to be applied to keep your green friends happy.
A field-specific wind forecast helps to reduce drift off during spray application, reducing both input costs and impact on the surrounding wildlife. Damage caused by high wind speed can also be predicted and analyzed – reducing crop loss due to debris hits and water-related plant stress in high-wind summers.
An accurate weather forecast is one of the most important Instruments in a farmer’s toolkit. Early alerts for weather changes and storms can provide some essential time to prepare your fields and yourself for what is to come. Planning your work according to the weather makes life a lot easier and having all the information you need in one place is another benefit of satellite software.
Long-term Field comparison
The most precise and reliable data extracted from satellite imagery is going to give you a comparison of your specific fields over the seasons – helping to visualize changes in the land and indicate possible issues in the future. Satellite Imagery can provide a wide array of useful tools from the get-go, but nothing is as valuable as archived data from your own plots. They provide all the information you specifically require and have the highest possible relatability to your other nearby fields.
You can measure the benefits and experiment with alternative farming methods like crop rotation, no-till, or Cover-crop planting during the offseason and decide according to data if these methods might advance your operation.
So is it worth it? Honestly, that’s something you have to decide for yourself. All the data provided by satellite observation software is available online (mostly for free), so theoretically, you could collect all the Info yourself and put them together in your own neat spreadsheet.
Satellite Observation services are more of a convenience fee. You don’t want to spend the time to collect the data and would love to have a centralized place for all the relevant information? Well, then Satellite Imagery might be right for you. Up to this point, we touched upon the benefits and technical side of this innovation. Now let’s take a closer look and answer some important questions related to the limitations and future of this technology.
How Satellite Imagery helps farmers to reduce the impact on the Environment
Environmental issues and Climate Change has become a widespread and present topic in today’s society, including the impact of Food Production on climate, water, and land. Luckily Satellite Imagery can help to reduce some of the most prominent environmental factors.
- Reduced need for Fertilizers/Pesticides: Visual Feedback highlighted by using NDVI shows areas of the field which might need more attention. Using Plant-Stress Maps to determine where Fertilizer is necessary helps reduce the total amount needed and prevents unwanted nutrient build-up over time. Excessive amounts of manure and fertilizer are prone to washing away during extended rain periods. The specified application eliminates uncontrolled build-up reducing the impact on local waterbodies.
- Optimal Application Planning: Wind during Spraying or Rain shortly after fertilization increases unwanted washout. Especially inexperienced farmers might struggle to optimally manage these tasks, costing them more money for reapplications and unnecessarily straining the environment.
- Increased Productivity/Long-term Optimization: Increasing Productivity is a great way to reduce the impact on the environment. Optimizing your operation for maximum yield while minimizing or maintaining external inputs reduces the impact per produced unit. Satellite Technologies is all about informed decision-making – the more data you can access during the planning period, the likelier success will be.
Challenges of Satellite Imagery in Agriculture
Getting the full picture before incorporating satellite Imagery into your operation is essential. After touching the positive side of this technology, let’s now take a look at some of its challenges and shortcomings.
Plant classification is needed to organize fields, improve the accuracy of data analysis, and is a vital part of plant-specific requirements. Automatic analysis using machine learning is still a rather new field and faces its own challenges, especially in early crop stages. Luckily for growers, NDVI & other Indexes work regardless of plant classification. However, we might benefit from reliable classification algorithms with higher accuracy field- and resource analysis.
Satellite Analysis models need lots of data to make accurate and relevant predictions. The ground Resolution has come a long way since the first satellite was launched and with constantly improving cameras, it is only getting better. Currently, images are detailed enough to provide a ground resolution as low as 0,3m per pixel.
At this scale, it’s still impossible to analyze individual plants and most satellites aren’t even equipped with this type of camera. In Agriculture, we focus on the trend an area of a field undergoes and less on single plants. Current ground resolution is more than enough to cater to this need. But in the future, we might get increasingly precise predictions as camera resolution improves.
Weather (Clouds, Haze)
Weather is the biggest disruptive factor to satellite imagery. Clouds and Haze make it impossible for visual satellites to capture an accurate representation of the ground or sometimes anything at all. Springtime is arguably the most crucial season for growers, with many important decisions to make. But during spring, clouds are also more common and might reduce the number of usable images drastically.
To overcome this challenge, we can use cloud masking to reduce the number of discarded images by accurately representing the clouds in the image. Cloud Masking makes partially cloud-covered pictures relevant for analysis purposes.
Huge Shadows / Overexposed
Clouds and structures might cast huge shadows, affecting data analysis in unpredictable ways. It’s important to accurately classify and adequately prepare images before analyzing them. Many new algorithms aim to reduce or negate the impact of disruptive factors.
Nadir – getting the right angle
Getting the right Angle is another important factor for proper analysis. Usually, agricultural images are in a perspective called Nadir, meaning looking straight down. Some algorithms can adjust an off-nadir image (only for small angles) into a top-down view. Loss of resolution and minor inaccuracies for previously hidden areas make these adjustments useful but not perfect. Image usability continues to decrease the more the angle gets off Nadir.
Farmers are still needed
In general, Satellite Technology and precision farming aren’t here to replace farmers. We are still needed to make all the important decisions and decide which advice we want to follow. Remote sensing is for getting visual feedback on your fields, but it doesn’t diminish the importance of in-person field checks.
Machinery nowadays has a lot of helpful tools to make farming easier but even the most sophisticated farming operation won’t work without a dedicated grower. It’s important to not solely rely on technology for the success of your operation, which might be a trap new and young farmers can fall into. Growing and producing food is as much of an art as it is a science.
Drones and other alternatives
Drones and Planes provide a great alternative to get high-resolution images of your field. Both generally have a much higher resolution per pixel compared to satellite imagery. However, drones are more expensive and usually lack special band cameras to capture Nir, SWIR, etc.
Good drones and aerial photographs can supplement satellite images, providing a more detailed visual representation of the ground. It’s important to evaluate if the extra cost is worth the higher resolution in your individual case. Unlike Satellites, Drones and Planes can capture ground images during (high-altitude) cloudy weather.
How fast and often is Satellite Information available?
New Satellite Images are available at least once a week, depending on current cloud status and satellite service. There are more than 100 government-funded and even more private earth-observing satellites. How often a new image of your field is available depends on which type of spectrum and resolution is required. Some Images might be discarded due to weather conditions, haze, or exposure issues.
Don’t expect daily renewals on your field’s status, it usually takes a couple of days to get a new image. Analysis of new images is pretty much instant. Once a new image passes all the requirements, you can view the results within a few hours.
Do Satellite Images still work on cloudy days?
Image usability is a critical factor for proper analysis. Cloud cover alone can render some pictures useless because most visual-based sensors (like VIS, NIR) can’t penetrate through it. Meaning they won’t provide useful images once more than 50-60% are hidden behind clouds.
Alternative Systems like SAR (synthetic aperture radar) can generate images even in cloudy conditions. Radar waves are able to penetrate through clouds, haze, and even thin solid surfaces.
How much does Satellite Imagery cost for Farmers?
The price of Satellite Imagery generally varies depending on included features and your land’s size. Payment is due on a monthly basis and EOS offers the best price range I could find. Sitting at 77$/mo (up to 1000Ha) or ~0.25$/Ha (small-scale Farm – with a minimum of 10Ha).
I reached out to a few other satellite imagery provides and prices vary between 3,75$/Ha up to 10$/Ha, with widely deviating minimum areas. One thing I noticed, the more specific a companies tools are, the more you should expect to pay.
Consider using satellite technology for your fields? The best thing you could do is to reach out to multiple businesses. They will provide an individually tailored plan for your operation and requirements with a highly accurate price estimate. Afterward, you know exactly what to expect and can choose the company that fits your needs the best.
Interview with EOS
At this point, I only had two fundamental questions left to ask. Luckily, the Team from Eos.com, a leading satellite service company, agreed to help me out with those questions. In the following, we talk about Satellite Imagery for small farming operations and the future of this technology.
Are Satellite Imagery and Precise Farming also interesting for small farmers?
Although agriculture monitoring was by no means the initial purpose of satellites, current innovations in both farming and Earth observation offer access to invaluable insights for various industries, including agriculture. Satellite imagery and the tools for its analytics enable access to high precision data for farmers, allowing them to easily detect any issues and make smart decisions when planning fieldwork. And if the benefits of satellite monitoring for big farms are evident due to hard on-the-ground management of large territories, they are not so clear for the small ones. But there are plenty of reasons why satellite imagery could be interesting to small farmers too.
What’s an example where satellite imagery helps small farmers?
There is no denying that timing is essential in farming. Growers have to be aware of their crop growth stages to plan field activities and harvesting correctly. Having 24/7 access to almost daily updated satellite imagery, they can track crop state during all major growth stages to make timely and precise decisions on fertilization, irrigation, harvesting, etc. based on the needs of plants at a particular period of cultivation. Overall, treating crops according to their growth stage and harvesting them on time is critical for receiving abundant yields, especially on a small farm.
How does satellite imagery help to reduce crop-loss risk?
There is hardly another industry that is more dependent on meteorological conditions than agriculture. Local weather conditions have a huge impact on plants and soil health during the whole span of crop cultivation. That is why it’s critical to be aware of the local weather beforehand to prepare for any related threats like cold or heat stress and plan field activities accordingly. For small farmers, weather data is of especial value since the growers risk losing the entire harvest if they neglect considering weather information when planning fieldwork.
That is why satellite imagery backed up with weather data becomes even more useful by giving growers the full picture of what goes on their farmland. Besides, tools for satellite farm monitoring usually offer weather reports for several years to enable the farmers to analyze local weather patterns and prepare for the next season accordingly. Weather data in such tools also usually includes information on temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture, which are also essential when planning fertilization and irrigation while avoiding overapplication or the lack of each.
How accurate is satellite Imagery for small fields and does it help with Input Management?
Farming software that leverages satellite imagery significantly simplifies the farm management process. Offering different field data, it helps to:
- Plan fertilization and irrigation;
- Plan crop rotation, seeding, and harvesting time;
- Perform pest control;
- Forecast yield;
- Optimize resources;
- Perform risk management;
- Prevent losses.
This entails that farmers can be more efficient due to smart input management. Having all the necessary and precise data, they can accurately determine the amount of needed resources (seeds, water, fertilizers, pesticides). And since modern satellites are able to take high-quality images with great detailing, small farmers can also easily benefit from it.
Are there other benefits for small farmers?
The use of satellite monitoring for small farms management will allow growers to save time, resources, and money. Having all the necessary data in one online platform, they will be able to track crop health, growth stage, and much more to ensure smart and remote control of fields.
What does the future hold for satellite Imagery in Farming?
Why is satellite technology relevant to the future of farming?
Satellite technology is already transforming agriculture by helping farmers to stay efficient and sustainable while adapting to climate change and reducing their own contribution to it. As agriculture and climate are interconnected and significantly impact one another, it’s essential for modern growers to make their farms as climate-resilient as possible while also not harming the environment. This entails reduced tillage, reduced chemicals use, smart crop rotation, etc. And satellite imagery is exactly what will help farmers to implement and achieve all of this now and in the future.
How do satellites help to implement beneficial farming practices like green manure or cover crops?
Using green manure and cover crops is basically the way of fertilizing and protecting the soil, allowing for reduced chemical use and tillage, hence benefiting both the farmers and the environment.
As for green manuring, it implies digging in the green mass of plants into the soil prior to planting the main crop. The green mass of these plants will decompose and fertilize the soil, enhancing its organic matter. However, it’s essential to determine the best time for digging in green manure – before the plants reach their flowering stage. And satellite imagery can easily help with that by enabling crop growth stages tracking through different software to help farmers decide on fieldwork depending on the crop stage, including on when to dig in green manures.
In case of cover crops, they are planted to protect the soil from erosion and degradation in between growing the cash crops. However, it’s critical to determine the right place for cover crops in the crop rotation plan. For that, farmers need to know the field’s productivity throughout the years, depending on the crop that was cultivated there. Satellite imagery analysis can help growers identify both most productive fields and field areas to see how the productivity changes depending on the crop grown. This will allow for smart crop rotation planning with cover crops included.
How can satellite imagery help farmers in the face of climate change?
Global and fast-paced climate change is one of the leading reasons why weather analytics in agriculture is of critical value. Accurate, timely, and reliable weather reports ensure better risk management, hence higher crop yield. With satellite and weather data accessible in one software, farmers can quickly adjust to the situation and mitigate weather-related risks in the most efficient way. For instance, rainfall and wind data will allow for protecting the soil from erosion due to storms or flooding, and temperatures data will help to prepare for the upcoming threat of heat or cold stress.
Are there any new Options on the horizon?
Agriculture appears to be one of the most conservative sectors in the economy since it takes time to shift from traditional farming practices to integrating advanced technologies on the field. However, innovations still keep finding ways to enter the farming market. And currently, the use of satellite monitoring for field management and differentiated application maps creation is a huge trend among growers.
As satellite data is of such great value in agriculture, there are more and more projects supporting this tendency. Besides, with the currently happening space commercialization, different enterprises launch their own satellites to cater to the needs of their particular business. And agriculture is no different with companies planning to launch satellites specifically focused on agriculture and farming. This will enable even higher precision, accuracy, and a bigger volume of different data necessary for growers.
How do higher resolution images affect Analysis / Future Potentials?
Spatial resolution basically determines how detailed a satellite picture is. Therefore, high-resolution pictures are much easier to analyze due to better detail and object recognition. Not so long ago, satellite images couldn’t be so easily and frequently obtained. Besides, they lacked proper spatial resolution to be used for precise change detection in crops’ health. But modern high-resolution satellite imagery and advanced algorithms for data collection and analysis, take field monitoring to a new level. With high-resolution satellite imagery, farmers can manage their fields with the highest possible precision and effectiveness at every stage of crop cultivation.
Are there ways to reduce the impact of Clouds & Haze?
The critical part of any satellite image analysis is cloud detection. Unfortunately, optical satellites will not provide a clear image on a cloudy day, but modern cloud masking techniques aim to solve this issue by making clouds visualized correctly on the picture.
In the process of creating a cloud mask, it’s essential to detect not only the clouds but the shadows too. More so, clouds and their shadows come in different shapes, sizes, and altitudes, depending on the geographic position and climatic conditions of the area of interest.
And if the information about clouds is accessible across multiple sources, information about their shadows is not. However, it still affects the image accuracy. To determine clouds and their shadows correctly, the image has to be of a sufficient resolution to provide high detail and minimize the chances of errors.
Satellite Technology is an excellent addition to a farmer’s toolkit to make data-orientated decisions. Sure, there are still some challenges to overcome; however, the benefits speak for themselves. Consider using this technology in your operation? Check out this link to eos, to directly talk to their team and see if their services work for you!