Forest and Agriculture


Due to the massive size and limited accessibility of forests, satellites have long been an indispensable tool for forest management. Satellite imagery-derived forest-cover maps can measure decreases in greenhouse gas storage potential from deforestation, detect illegal logging activities, evaluate the availability and use of wood as timber, help infer secondary species composition and animal habitat by their composition, and assess the environmental impact of infrastructure projects such as road construction.

In agriculture, satellite imagery measures crop productivity and overall health. It is used for everything from developing insurance products for small farmers to early warning systems for detecting decreasing agricultural production. It can be used to classify crop type and coverage area in regional surveys, measure the effects of rainfall and irrigation systems, determine the effectiveness of a particular fertilizer, pesticide, or physical farming technique, evaluate the aftermath of a pest infestation, or evaluate the risk of droughts or floods. In food-stressed areas of the world, it can be used to measure the risk of potential crop shortages as part of a Famine Early Warning System (FEWS).

High-frequency multispectral imagery unlocks significant monitoring opportunities for forest and agriculture projects. Time-series imagery can be used to examine rural growth in developing countries, and its effects on the surrounding forest and animal habitat. It can identify trends in food supply as they relate to village size, and predict agricultural emergencies before they happen. Regular imaging enables automated change detection that will be invaluable to monitoring large swaths of forest and agriculture, in service of humanitarian as well as environmental objectives.