Watching Crops From Space?

Precision farming is going to a whole new level. University of North Dakota students and faculty are sending a camera to the space station in 2011 to watch growing crops from space!

““ISSAC is a space-related research project that will result in the delivery of direct benefits from space to the general public,” said Doug Olsen, ISSAC project manager. “The ISSAC project is in the midst of developing an upgrade to its camera sensor. It will resume operations during the 2011 growing season.”

ISSAC is designed to take frequent images, in visible and infrared light, of vegetated areas on the Earth, principally of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. Images will be delivered within two days directly to requesting farmers, ranchers, foresters, natural resource managers and tribal officials to help improve their environmental stewardship of the land. Images will also be shared with educators for classroom use.

The system allows users to select specific geographical areas of interest over which to request collection of imagery in both red and near-infrared bandpasses, and at medium-high spatial resolution. Farmers using variable-rate application and other precision agriculture techniques will be able to dynamically delineate management zones as the crop vegetation canopy changes during the growing season; this can result in more effective use of fertilizer and other chemical inputs and reduce negative environmental effects.” Source: UND Press Room

You can view their interactive map here. What do you think the next big development in the ag industry will be? With crop watching from space as a reality, no idea can be too far-out!

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