Farming is generally considered a low-tech, and sometimes even a primitive industry. This misconception is, however, far from the truth. The level of innovation and development applied in various areas of agriculture has grown a lot in the last decades. Agro-related associations, individual farmers, agricultural students, and government organizations apply increasingly sophisticated technology in their work. The use of satellite data is one of the significant bets the industry is placing. Satellite data can have many applications within the industry:
- Classification of crops and land mapping
- Large scale farming
- Land use and management
- Crop health monitoring
- Solving agricultural research topics
Real-time crop monitoring is also used to manage uncertainties in demand and supply. Satellite images which are provided in spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions are used in making a prognosis for future supply. This helps industrial and financial entities to balance the market, and in turn, ensures that oversupply and shortages are avoided.
Large Scale Farming
The world will obviously hardly function without agriculture on a large scale. Satellite monitoring has become the primary data source for large scale farming, and it is a long term solution for the monitoring of vast crop fields. This is transforming farming for the vast majority of the human race, as a smaller number of people are needed to cultivate a large piece of land. This thereby reduces the cost of food for the consumers and allows a larger workforce to participate in other areas of the global economy.
Improved Farm Practices and Crop Yield
Improved crop yield and quality is, in no small extent, becoming dependent on satellite data. All the leading agriculture companies have access to detailed and prompt geospatial information which they use as guidance to manage productivity and quality. Thorough fertilizing of crops, for instance, is becoming much more accurate and efficient with the images provided by satellites.
Agricultural and crop databases contain a wide range of data which covers topics such as soil temperature and vegetation indexes for various crops. The use of satellite images, combined with big data analysis and machine learning, can provide vast improvements in crop yields. It can also help reduce the costs and improve the quality of what is grown, as well as lowering the environmental impact of farming.
Land Use and Management
Farmers across the world increase their understanding of getting the most out of their land, using satellite data. But even more importantly, they learn not to be too greedy. Excessive cultivation and soil erosion can lead to degradation of the land and may result in reduced future productivity and environmental destruction if not monitored properly.
Highlighting Farmland Issues
Satellite images are valuable when it comes to early detection of land and crop issues. Imagery with different spectral, spatial, and temporal resolutions allows for proper assessment of farmland. Crop health, soil analysis, as well as the size of ailing crop fields, can be easily determined. With space-based agricultural forecasts and vegetation images, farmers are capable of understanding and identifying abnormalities present in the soil. Images provided in the red and infrared spectral range show detailed information about soil textures and the presence of diseases. Drainage patterns, variations in soil organic matter and unirrigated areas are also visible with these images. Abnormalities which satellite data can help spot include:
- Weed patches
- Soil compaction
- Irrigation problems
- The presence of diseases or pests