Precision Agriculture (PA) has been enabled by satellite imagery and provide disruptive new tools and decision support for farmers.
Equipped with the capability to easily monitor large areas, satellite-based Earth Observation (EO) has long been a tool at the service of the agricultural sector. EO data can help to increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability by means of precision farming techniques, and can monitor productivity and efficiency all along the agricultural value chain:
- Planting: deciding on the types of crop to be planted, the coverage and the seed density, based on soil properties (prescription planting);
- Growing: improving crop management by tracking crop growth, health and soil quality, and consequently varying the application of inputs such as water, fertilisers, and pesticides.
- Harvesting and storing: supporting the planning of harvesting logistics through crop yield predictions.
Farmers currently benefit from numerous precision farming services, which utilise information from satellite navigation, satellite imagery and ground sensors as well as sophisticated crop growth models, with a wide range of available applications.
The benefits of EO data for the agricultural sector can be summarized as follows:
- Cost reduction: savings on seeds, water, pesticides and fertiliser thanks to input optimisation during the planting and growing phases;
- Efficiency: increasing the overall crop yield (e.g. through variable rate nitrogen application);
- Competitive advantage: improvement of the quality of crops as well as more informed decision-making on crop type and land use.
The full, free and open data and services´ information provided by Copernicus, combined with information produced by other remote sensing technologies (e.g. drones) and/or in situ data, can enable companies of all sizes (from established players to innovative SMEs) to bring to the market new and efficient services addressing the local and individual needs of farmers.