How do we analyze the health of your crops from space?

The process of precision agriculture can seem daunting at first, but in reality, it provides farmers a very simple way to achieve better results. Precision agriculture equipment indeed does nearly all the work for a farmer and requires a minimal effort to enjoy a much better quality yield for a less cost. But how exactly do we examine the quality of the crops and provide farmers with the precise nitrogen recommendations?

How exactly does it work?

Weirdly enough, the process of healthier plants production actually begins in space. In order to unravel how the quality of crops can be measured and evaluated from such a far distance, it is first important to understand that everything on our planet from objects to plants or humans, has a specific spectral signature. In our day-to-day lives, we only use a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum called Visible Spectrum. Our eyes detect electromagnetic radiation, process it and create our vision of the world. Any object that reflects red light in the visible spectrum appears red to us, an object reflecting green light will look green and so forth.

In the same way that electromagnetic radiation enables us to differentiate between objects, we can differentiate between crops by looking closely at their spectral signatures. Plants are made up from biomass, which is largely composed of such elements like carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. However, during certain periods of the growth of a crop, it utilizes different kinds of nutrients. A deficiency of any of them emits a special spectral signature that can easily be detected and measured.

How do we get the data about the field?

Here at Vultus we primarily utilize data from NASA and ESA space programs. With these sources, we receive data 2 or 3 times a week on every piece of land across the globe at a resolution of 10m. What is most important to us, is that the quality of this data is incredibly high, as it allows us to provide farmers’ with as precise nitrogen recommendations as possible.

To help us efficiently and easily deliver processed and analyzed satellite data to the farmers, we have built a serverless processing pipeline. Simply put, it fetches data from NASA and ESA, selects a specific area of interests, performs calibration and corrections, processes our vegetational indices and applies the nitrogen models when specified. The engine is triggered through a GeoJSON application programming interface.

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