How are satellites used in farming?
When the first satellite was launched in 1957, not many would have known quite what an impact this technology would start to have on the way so many of us interact with the world around us.
Fast forward more than half a century, and few industries benefit more from satellite technology than agriculture. From the day they helped improving weather forecasts, farmers have been fans of those orbiting objects in the atmosphere. But these days, satellites are impacting farming in far bigger ways.
Here are some of the most significant ways that satellites are used in farming today:
Floods, draughts, rainfall and serious weather events have significant impact on crops and livestock. For farmers, the earlier they have knowledge about upcoming weather patterns, the better. It allows them to prepare or react in a way that gives their yield the best chance of survival.
Monitoring crop health
Satellites have the ability to detect crop conditions over thousands of square metres. Farmers can use satellite data to identify soil and crop conditions and characteristics, monitor growth, assess soil and irrigation requirements.
Information from satellite technology can tell farmers where water needs to be distributed, helping to prevent over- or under irrigation and potentially making huge savings to the farm’s water supply. Water conservation is an important issue, and inefficient use of water can be not only costly to a farmer, but also to the wider community, and the environment.
Not all crops have the same requirements, so blanket distribution of fertiliser won’t always result in the best yield. Satellite data helps farmers apply accurate amounts of fertiliser to best suit the requirements of particular parts of a field.
Tractors and machinery equipped with tracking and sensor technology use satellite data to calculate optimal routes. This level of autonomy maximises efficiency and frees farmers up to focus on other necessary tasks. Autonomous machinery also results in less waste – tractors only go where it’s essential.
Using satellite imagery, farmers can accurately visualise what is happening on their land, and track changes by day, month, or season to quickly understand the impacts of growth, change or weather. A tool like DechipherAg lets you upload farm boundaries, compare biomass by location and season, and analyse that biomass charting for the current and past three years.
Collaborating with drone technology
There are instances where drones (or UAVs) don’t necessarily compete with satellite technology, but complement them. For example, issues identified on a satellite can be tackled by sending a drone to the area for hyper-local evaluation.
Satellites are already playing a crucial part in precision agriculture and it’s interesting to see how technology is evolving to further leverage the insights that these ‘eyes in the sky’ can provide.
The opportunity is there for farmers to optimise their farming business with the help of satellite imaging, but it takes the right kind of platform to make it easy to put the information to good use – that’s what DecipherAg is all about. Find out more about how we help farmers visualise their data to get a clear picture of what’s happening on their land: https://www.decipher.com.au/decipherag/
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