Forest and Agriculture

Due to the massive size and limited accessibility of forests, satellites have long been an indispensable tool for forest management. With the right sensors, satellite imagery-derived forest-cover maps can measure decreases in greenhouse gas storage potential from deforestation and quantify the potential of a forest to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Satellite data can also enable the detection of 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 types and coverage area in regional surveys. Rapid revisit rates now allow for the day-to-day monitoring of crop growth and weather patterns further increasing the accuracy of Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) Weekly or even daily scans, increases the feedback and allows for updates to farming practices in nearly real time. Irrigation system efficiency, fertilizer and pesticide effectiveness, physical farming techniques, pest infestations, or the risk of droughts or floods can now be evaluated quicker than ever before.

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 that would otherwise be impossible.