Use of Remote Sensing and Drones in Producing Agricultural Information

Friday, February 17, 2017: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 206 (Hynes Convention Center)
Jacques Delince, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy
Agricultural Information Systems aim at delivering advanced information on food availability so that crisis can be anticipated and at providing accurate production statistics at the end of the season, essential for policy making. Monitoring Agricultural production is usually derived from the integration of multi-source information (on field surveys, crops characteristics, soil quality, meteorology, satellite images and topographic maps) with dedicated spatio-temporal and statistical models, leading to crop production estimates and yield forecasts. Field surveys and remote sensing image analysis both contribute to the process.

Within the last years, a tremendous boost took place with the arrival of new satellite/drones sensors allowing free – or at least very cheap- access to imagery, weekly coverage and fine ground resolution (due to Sentinels constellation, micro-satellite flocks like Planet Lab-, personal drones). At the same time, platforms became available (like Google Earth Engine) allowing remote access to the most recent data, to the major NASA databases (digital terrain models, Forest inventory, meteorology and image historical archive), to the most recent image analysis algorithms as well as to the image processing in the cloud. All this today allows most administrations or NGO’s, having reasonable speed Internet, to process efficiently and at very low cost the real-time geo-spatial data internationally available. As a complement, phone cells and GPS technology favor an easy transmission of field survey data as well as their geocoding for efficient linkage with the satellite imagery. Finally, new approaches to the “Big Data” analysis have appeared, showing how future market prices can be predicted from the analysis of the prices contained for example into twitter messages.

All this has lead to tremendous projects today integrated into international initiatives like AMIS and GEOGLAM and supported by research programs like the one of the Global Strategy for improved agricultural and rural statistics.