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Satellite services can aid farmers with crop management

Satellites can help farmers see their fields in a new way
space satellite illustration shutterstock

Space satellites have a broad range of uses with agriculture becoming one of the latest applications.

Recent improvements in technology offer farmers the ability to view plant health by satellite to plan inputs, future seeding rates, chemical and fertilizer applications

High tech cameras measure difference in plants’ reflection of infrared light and red light that plants absorb and provide a view of crop health/stress on the day of monitoring.

Two operators, Climate Corporation, a division of Monsanto with offices in Saskatoon and Corte, a Dow Dupont division, offer satellite services for agriculture, according to Farm Credit Canada Express.

The advantage of the services comes from wider coverage of fields.

Scouting a field by walking only allows farmers to see three or four per cent of the field compared with the satellite. The satellite service can be directed at certain parts of the field that may not be as accessible to the walking scout.

And the satellite service sees things farmers can’t see when driving by or walking the field.

Some farmers have discovered the satellite monitor can be an early growth stage predictor of yields while others find the service helps manage plant disease and fertilizer use.

Cost runs around $1 an acre with the option of daily or less frequent eye-in-the-sky views. A mobile phone app gives access to images.

Ron Walter can be reached at

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