Successful Imagery Partnership In Europe

RapidEye, based in Germany, has been working with potential partners around the world to offer its five-satellite constellation dedicated to unique remote imagery products. The company provided the following success story, working with a French precision agriculture consulting company.

S2B (Société des Services aux Betteraviers) is an affiliate of CGB (Confédération Générale des planteurs de Betterave), and offers services to its customers in the French agriculture market. S2B has developed the web-based platform VISIOPLAINE that distributes precision agriculture services to cooperatives and farmers.

RapidEye services for agriculture are incorporated into the VISIOPLAINE platform. Through this platform, farmers can get seasonal information on the actual growing conditions of a given crop. This information is provided to the farmers in the form of maps, and is intended to help them to increase crop yields.

S2B has identified RapidEye as a geo-information provider in the industry capable of delivering remote sensing-based information in agricultural regions both at high spatial resolution and with high temporal frequency. RapidEye has the expertise in analyzing satellite-based data to support precision farming and agricultural management decisions.

From 2008 to 2009, S2B and RapidEye successfully ran two pilot projects involving the recommendation of nitrogen fertilization at different intervals in France. The objective was to optimize nitrogen fertilization through remote sensing-based information for canola and wheat fields.

For both projects, the cooperatives and scientific institutes contributed information collected in the fields. RapidEye was responsible for the analysis from the remote sensing perspective, and delivered an intermediate product in the form of biomass and chlorophyll maps. S2B calculated the measurements of canola biomass in the fields and evaluated the prototype results jointly with RapidEye. Nitrogen fertilization maps were integrated into the VISIOPLAINE platform and could be downloaded by farmers. From the farmers’ perspective, recommendations for nitrogen fertilization are most helpful in the springtime to optimize seasonal planning and crop yield.

From early winter 2008 to early spring 2009, RapidEye developed a pilot service for S2B’s VISIOPLAINE platform by measuring biomass changes on canola fields in northern France. RapidEye delivered biomass maps at two different periods of time. These maps helped to estimate the biomass changes before winter and the period after wintertime, in spring 2009.

In June 2009, RapidEye delivered a pilot service for S2B’s VISIOPLAINE platform for cooperatives by measuring chlorophyll content on wheat fields. RapidEye delivered chlorophyll maps for two different time periods. RapidEye’s competitive advantage is its red edge channel. The RapidEye satellite system is the first commercial system to offer the red edge spectral band, which provides specific information about the chlorophyll content of plants. Conclusions about the vitality of the vegetation in an observed area can be made with this information.

For the canola project, RapidEye successfully delivered the first prototypes of biomass maps based on RapidEye satellite imagery to several cooperatives in early 2009. RapidEye provided proof that measuring biomass of canola using remote sensing is feasible. Based on this, biomass changes between early and late winter can be calculated, which in turn can be used to measure the required nitrogen application in early spring. Nitrogen fertilization after the winter period is a critical element in canola production in northern France. The amount of nitrogen fertilizer required is dependent on the residual nitrogen in the soil at the end of the winter period. Biomass change of canola plants from the beginning to the end of winter is an indicator for residual nitrogen in the soil, and can be used as an input to models which determine the spring nitrogen application rates.

The result was that RapidEye successfully developed biomass maps for S2B to support nitrogen fertilization recommendations. Throughout the duration of the project, European skies were frequently cloudy. However, one of the key benefits of owning a constellation of five identical Earth observation satellites is that RapidEye could revisit these regions daily, increasing the likelihood of capturing areas with lower cloud cover levels.

For the wheat project, RapidEye successfully delivered the first prototypes of chlorophyll maps based on RapidEye satellite imagery to different cooperatives in June 2009. On the basis of these maps for chlorophyll estimation, the cooperatives can make recommendations for better nitrogen fertilization. Seasonal information on the actual growing conditions help the cooperatives to make more informed agricultural management decisions. The results and field measurements are being tested, analyzed, and confirmed this year before introducing this solution into the wheat market in 2010.

The result: In June 2009, RapidEye successfully developed chlorophyll maps for S2B to support nitrogen fertilization recommendations. RapidEye’s competitive advantage is its red edge spectral band which provides specific information about the chlorophyll content of plants. Conclusions about the vitality of the vegetation in an observed area can be made with this information. Currently, the results of the pilot project are being analyzed before entering the wheat market in 2010.

After having conducted several joint pilot projects in preparation for a collaborative business, S2B and RapidEye entered into a strategic partnership agreement in 2009 to implement and operate the services tested in 2008 and early 2009. S2B and RapidEye have predefined a set of additional services to be developed, tested, implemented and operated. With this cooperation in place, S2B continues its strategy to enhance services for farmers, offer additional agricultural services, and expand these services to other European countries.

For more information on RapidEye offerings, visit www.rapideye.de.

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