New NASA Satellite Benefiting Agriculture

Landsat 1

On February 11, NASA’s Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) thundered into space aboard an Atlas V rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. The LDCM, the eighth satellite in a series dating back to 1972, brings two sensors—the Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS)—into low orbit over the Earth to image our planet’s land surface.

Jim Irons, a former agronomist serving as NASA project scientist for LDCM at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, says that the new satellite and imaging instruments will deliver data-rich images for growers and other agricultural decision makers, telling a deeper tale of how the land changes over time.

“Landsat data are applied broadly in agriculture,” explains Irons. “The USDA Foreign Ag Service uses Landsat data to help develop their global commodity forecasts, the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) uses Landsat data in the development of its now annual Crop Data Layer (CropScape) digital map of U.S. crops, and the USDA Risk Management Agency uses Landsat data to spot check crop insurance claims, validate cause of loss and assess flood risk and compliance.

“Additionally, our western states’ water resource agencies use Landsat data to monitor water consumption in irrigated fields, to manage water rights and adjudicate conflicting claims,” he adds.

According to NASA, LDCM will go through what’s known as a “check-out phase” for the next three months. Afterward, operational control will be transferred to NASA’s mission partner, the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the satellite will be renamed Landsat 8. Data will be archived and distributed free over the Internet from the Earth Resources and Science (EROS) center in Sioux Falls, SD. Distribution of Landsat 8 data from the USGS archive is expected to begin within 100 days of launch.

To demonstrate the benefits of the launch to agriculture, NASA recently profiled grower Gary Wagner, who uses free data obtained from LDCM satellites to make variable-rate fertilizer decisions on his 5,000 acre sugar-beet farm in northern Minnesota.

From NASA’s “Landsat Satellites Find the ‘Sweet Spot’ for Crops”: To find where he needs to adjust his fertilizer use—apply it here or withhold it there—Wagner uses a map of his 5,000 acres that span 35 miles created using free data from NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellites. When he plants a different crop species the following year, Wagner’s map will tell him which areas of the fields are depleted in nitrogen so he can apply fertilizer judiciously instead of all over.

Wagner’s map—a special kind of map known as a zone map—shows the difference between healthy and stressed plants by representing the amount of light they’re reflecting in different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. To display this information on his map, the visible colors of light—red, green, and blue—are each assigned to a different band. Red, for example, is assigned to the near-infrared band that isn’t visible to humans. Healthy leaves strongly reflect the invisible, near-infrared energy. Therefore green, lush sugar beets pop out in bright red on Wagner’s map, while the yellow-leaved stressed plants appear as a duller red. Wagner can use this map to track and document changes in his crop’s condition throughout the season and between seasons. As a tool, this map supports and enhances his on-the-ground crop analyses with independent and scientific observations from space.

A farmer needs to monitor his fields for potential yield and for variability of yield, Wagner says. Knowing how well the plants are growing by direct measurement has an obvious advantage over statistically calculating what should be there based on spot checks as he walks his field. That’s where remote sensing comes in, and NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellites step into the spotlight.

For status updates and other information regarding the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Guidance Stories
GuidanceNovAtel Launches RTK ASSIST Service
October 11, 2016
Today at Intergeo, NovAtel introduced its RTK ASSIST service. RTK ASSIST is a subscription-based service that provides users with satellite-delivered Read More
AgJunction, InfoAg 2014, Autosteer, GPS
GuidanceAgJunction, TeeJet Technologies Form Partnership
July 6, 2016
AgJunction Inc. and TeeJet Technologies, one of the world’s leading application technology providers for agriculture, have entered into a global Read More
GPS, Guidance
GuidanceDeere Launches Plethora of Precision Ag Products
June 1, 2016
Two new row guidance products available for John Deere sprayers Two new AutoTrac products are available to help row crop Read More
GuidanceNovAtel Launches TerraStar-L Precise Point Positioning Service
April 27, 2016
NovAtel today announced TerraStar-L, a new 40 centimetre (cm) Precise Point Positioning (PPP) correction service. TerraStar-L is a subscription based Read More
Trending Articles
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To Enhance VRT Programs
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secrets
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Farmers
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
BusinessTrimble Launches New FMIS Platform
November 7, 2016
Trimble announced today that it is consolidating three of its agriculture software products — Connected Farm, Farm Works Software and Read More
Grower Services & SolutionsGrower Groups Encourage Implementation Of AgGateway’s ADAPT For Precision Ag
November 2, 2016
A dozen leading U.S. grower organizations are hailing the collaborative efforts that led to the new AgGateway ADAPT framework for Read More
Latest News
BASF Maglis Grower Tablet
Business ManagementForecasting Precision Ag: 4 Challenges, Opportunities F…
December 7, 2016
Opportunities and challenges. They are the yin and yang of the business world. It could easily be argued that, out Read More
GVM E-Series cab
Ag Tech GlobalGlobalization And Precision Agriculture
December 7, 2016
Globalization has taken on a negative connotation in some circles in the U.S. in recent months. The lightning rod for Read More
Buhler Versatile HQ cab
BusinessThe State Of Precision Ag In 2016
December 7, 2016
There’s no denying that precision technologies and practices are more vibrant than ever. Elsewhere on this site, you will find Read More
BusinessFarmobile Details New AGCO Distribution Deal
December 6, 2016
Farmobile today announced a strategic partnership with AGCO, a worldwide manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment. The agreement will allow Read More
Hort TechSol Chip Launches Autonomous, Wireless Solar Tag for Sm…
December 6, 2016
Sol Chip, a provider of Internet of Things (IoT) systems and energy harvesting solutions, today announced the introduction of its Read More
TechnologyAgGateway Announces 2017 Board Of Directors And Leaders…
December 2, 2016
AgGateway has announced its leadership for the coming year, including the directors of its new Strategic Board and Operational Board, Read More
DataSentera Honored With Startup Award Of 2016 By Minnesota…
December 1, 2016
The Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) recently recognized Sentera as the 2016 Tekne Startup Award recipient. The MHTA Tekne Awards Read More
AGCO AgControl
TechnologyPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
December 1, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
Farmers Edge Truck
DataFarmers Edge, Trotter Fertilizer Form Partnership To En…
November 29, 2016
Farmers Edge, a global leader in precision agriculture and independent data management solutions, has partnered with Trotter Fertilizer, Nebraska’s foremost Read More
Fall corn
BusinessInsecticide of the Future? Robotic Tanks With Lasers to…
November 22, 2016
*Article Notes: This monthly column takes some crazy sounding ideas and applies them to the field of Ag Tech. The Read More
Topcon X30 Console in cab
Sensors/IoTIoT The Focus Of New Topcon Partnership
November 22, 2016
Topcon Agriculture and SDF plan to enter into a non-exclusive long-term partnership agreement. This latest arrangement of Topcon with a Read More
Kinze 4900 Multi-Hybrid Concept Planter
Business ManagementKinze Fights Deere, Feds To Block Release Of Trade Secr…
November 22, 2016
An antitrust lawsuit intended to block a small-scale deal between agricultural giants John Deere and Monsanto is putting an Iowa Read More
BusinessClimate Corp. Acquires European FMIS Company
November 21, 2016
Today, The Climate Corp., a subsidiary of Monsanto Co., announced the acquisition of VitalFields, a European farm management software company Read More
BusinessFarmobile Releases Mobile Data Visualization Dashboard
November 17, 2016
Farmobile today announced an EFR Dashboard, a real-time dashboard that helps farmers visualize their field data and derive insights to Read More
Southern States
Best PracticesSouthern States: 5 Tips for Variable-Rate Seeding Succe…
November 15, 2016
Success comes from taking advantage of every opportunity you can. One technique used in precision farming, called variable rate seeding, Read More
USDA UAV
Hort TechHigh-Tech Agriculture Continues To Reap Rewards For Far…
November 11, 2016
Just like a smartphone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology — known as precision agriculture — Read More
THRIVE
BusinessCall For Ag Tech Startups: Apply To THRIVE’s Open…
November 10, 2016
THRIVE is looking for high growth ag tech companies with an in-market solution that are positioned to scale. The top 50 Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere Launching New Operations Center Apps, Mappin…
November 10, 2016
In an effort to enhance the functionality, ease-of-use and overall value of John Deere Operations Center to producers, John Deere Read More