Satisfied with Satellite?
As technology improves, we can see more from satellites than ever before. Free platforms like Google Maps offer insights into nature, neighborhoods, and local oddities. One of our favorites is the “Welcome to Cleveland” sign (42.991311, -87.883685) that greets incoming air traffic. The funny part. . . the sign is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
As amazing as satellite imagery is, it still has limitations as a scouting platform for agriculture. Issues like atmospheric distortion, flight logistics, and input resolution all play an important role in determining if satellite imagery can pinpoint your farm needs.
Punching Holes in the Atmosphere
The atmosphere serves as a filter for many types of energy, some of which are crucial for understanding plant growth. Non-visible infrared bands, especially low-energy longwave bands, can be blocked or distorted by the atmosphere, meaning the data needs to be altered to deliver the same type of insights from a satellite as from a plane or a drone. Though algorithms and models can help make the data presentable, the clearest picture is taken inside the atmosphere versus trying to punch through it.
Stuck in Space
Orbiting cameras are known for their consistency. Once a satellite is set on a path, it will continue to provide the same results. However, as this year taught us, growing seasons are anything but consistent. Though satellites may be reliable, they can’t be adjusted or updated. This also applies to the camera setup. Many satellites in orbit run on past technology, while the drones and airplanes on the surface are constantly updated and repaired to incorporate new developments and adjustments.
It is What it Is
Satellite provides unprecedented consistency at a higher scale than any other technology on the market. However, for precision agriculture, drone and airplane providers are better routes for providing this crucial intel, especially when being used to fuel powerful analytics systems like AgMRI. Unless the military suddenly decides to get involved in agriculture, satellites won’t be able to operate on the level of precision necessary to drive decisions in the field.
To see how our platform utilizes high resolution for scouting and diagnostics, check out a few case studies.
AgMRI. Helping Farmers Prosper.
by Ivan “Alex” Dozier, MS, Agronomist
A native of Southern Illinois, farming and agronomy are in Ivan’s genes. Inspired by his father’s work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of Illinois, Ivan earned his Bachelor of Science in Agronomy and Crop Science and Masters in Crop Science from the University of Illinois.
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