Automation in Agriculture: A Quantum Leap with Satellite Technologies

Automation in Agriculture: A Quantum Leap with Satellite Technologies
Automation in Agriculture: A Quantum Leap with Satellite Technologies

It’s no secret that agriculture has always been at the heart of human civilization. From using basic hand tools to till the soil, people have come a long way to modern farming, embracing advanced machinery and technological innovations. And one of the most groundbreaking breakthroughs in recent agriculture history is ubiquitous automation.
Automation in agriculture utilizes geospatial data analysis and satellite imagery to improve precision and efficiency. While satellite imagery captures details of crop health, soil conditions and more, geospatial data analysis interprets this data to help track any changes happening across fields. This leads to optimized crop yields, reduced input costs, and minimal environmental impact.
Let’s explore the key role that satellite technology has come to play in boosting automation within the agricultural sector and explain how it actually works on the example of ​​EOS Data Analytics — a company that has vast knowledge and experience in extracting agricultural insights from space. But let’s start from answering the question of why using technology is so important in farming practices.

The need for automation

Climate change, growing population, limited resources, loss of biodiversity, food waste, sustainability concerns—these are the key reasons that make it close to impossible for modern agriculture to stay efficient without the use of technology.
Automated systems are reshaping the way we approach agriculture. They help farmers optimize input use, increase yields, and reduce the need for large labor forces, all thanks to drones, satellites, and robots. Thanks to IoT devices and real-time geospatial data analysis, growers can make timely, informed decisions about farming practices. Besides, automation also aids in tackling climate change by ensuring efficient resources use, while automated post-harvest solutions cut down food waste. Moreover, precision agriculture promotes sustainable farming by limiting pesticide and fertilizer use. Economy-wise, automation stabilizes production, buffering against market volatility and high costs.
Since satellites are one of the main tools behind agricultural automation, let’s move on to see what they can do and how they actually help industry players.

Satellites in crop monitoring and health assessment

Satellite imagery can be used to monitor crop health, growth stages, recognize potential diseases, detect water stress, and much more. How so? Usually, different farm software is used for that.
For example, EOSDA Crop Monitoring platform by EOS Data Analytics uses AI-based satellite imagery analytics to help users manage all fields online in one place. Users can track field conditions, assign scouting tasks, and manage crop care activities. For that, the tool offers a scouting app, zoning feature, weather data (14-day forecasts, current and historical), vegetation indices measurements, field leaderboard, and much more.

Yield prediction and harvest optimization

The transformation of the agricultural sector goes far beyond advanced machinery or aerial drones, which is especially noticeable in the areas of yield prediction and harvest optimization. Rather than relying on traditional methods or intuition, modern growers are utilizing the power of geospatial data analytics, satellite imagery, soil sensors, and detailed meteorological data to forecast crop yields with highest possible precision. In the long run, this shift streamlines both logistics and market planning.
More so, the entire process of harvest optimization has been influenced by technological intervention. Today, growers don’t have to perform subjective field assessments to determine the best moment for harvesting — instead they use spectral analysis that offers precise insights on crop maturity. The rise of robotic technology capable of determining when the crop is ready for harvesting signifies a strong connection between innovation and tradition. All in all, apart from helping to enhance efficiency, modern agri-tech represents a way towards sustainability, ensuring both productivity and environmental protection.

Spectral sensing of cropland

Spectral sensing, often implemented through remote sensing techniques, refers to the capture and analysis of light wavelengths reflected or emitted by objects, in this case, cropland. Analyzing different wavelengths of light that crops reflect, farmers and agricultural experts can get a wealth of information about crop health, moisture content, nutrient deficiencies, etc. For instance, healthy plants usually reflect more infrared light and absorb more visible light, especially in the green spectrum, compared to stressed or diseased plants. This data, when captured over time, provides invaluable insights into the growth progression of crops, the presence of pests or diseases, and the effectiveness of fertilization methods. As a result, spectral sensing has become an integral tool in precision agriculture, enabling more informed decision-making and optimizing crop yields.

Automatic field boundary detection

Automatic field boundary detection is an approach aimed at efficiently identifying and delineating the outlines of agricultural fields. This technology is typically powered by advanced algorithms analyzing satellite or aerial imagery with the goal to detect the outlines of fields automatically for more accurate field management, monitoring and planning.
With the rapid advancements in remote sensing and geospatial technologies, automatic detection offers immense benefits in terms of streamlining operations from irrigation planning to harvest scheduling. By detecting accurate field boundaries, farmers can optimize the use of resources, reduce overlap in activities like planting or spraying, and improve overall farm productivity.
For instance, the field boundary detection solution by EOSDA showcases the layout of croplands across various regions and nations but does so in a cost-effective manner. This is invaluable to governments and administrative entities, empowering them to allocate subsidies wisely, maintain a real-time pulse on crop health and conditions, and closely monitor the productivity of agricultural lands.
With EOSDA's precise field boundary maps at the forefront, stakeholders can build comprehensive databases, capturing data points ranging from crop rotation cycles to chlorophyll concentrations, enhancing informed decision-making in the agricultural sector.
As the world's population continues to grow, food security is getting more and more crucial. That is why utilizing automation and geospatial data analysis in agriculture is not just about increasing production, but also optimizing it. Today, satellite data helps producers oversee the entire agricultural process. And as such data becomes more affordable and easily accessible, the lines between satellite and aerial photography are getting blurred, allosing precision farming to shape the future where farmers produce more effectively while preserving resources.

About The Author

Tatiana Vasiltsova is a lifelong eco-activist. Her expertise covers satellite monitoring of natural and man-made landscapes and detection of changes in surface characteristics. Tatyana is a Ph.D. student in information technology and has an impressive list of technical publications.

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