Now Reading: Scouting From Above: Solving Problems and Saving Time with Field Health Imagery

Scouting From Above: Solving Problems and Saving Time with Field Health Imagery

by Joe Nail, Global Product Marketing Lead - Remote Sensing, The Climate Corporation

June 25, 2019

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Something unusual was happening in one of Chris Naylor’s soybean fields. While reviewing his latest field health imagery in Climate FieldView™, he noticed a change that he didn’t expect.

“All of a sudden there was a green strip that started emerging in this field and I could not figure out what was going on.”
Chris Naylor, North Carolina Farmer
 
The mysterious green strip Chris Naylor saw in his field using FieldView field health imagery.The mysterious green strip Chris Naylor saw in his field using FieldView field health imagery.

No spraying was scheduled, and planting in that field was complete. Stumped and curious, Chris got into his pickup and went directly to where FieldView was displaying this anomaly.   

After arriving at the spot in question, Chris looked around and saw no obvious clues for diagnosing. Did it rain only in this spot last week? To his surprise, Chris eventually learned that his father had arranged to irrigate part of this field. The mysterious green strip was the evidence of this irrigation, a change that was captured by FieldView.

“I could see where he had irrigated. It picked it up spot on.”
Chris Naylor, North Carolina Farmer

Although I haven’t heard a story exactly like Chris’ before, there are many others like it. As the Global Marketing Lead for remote sensing at The Climate Corporation, I’ve watched field health imagery reach increased levels of accuracy and precision. It reminds me of when I bought my first digital camera. I remember being amazed that it could take pictures at three megapixels. Today, many smartphones offer 12 or better. That means these images provide up to four times the data in each picture I take. And more data means a clearer picture.

In the last five years, imagery technology has progressed dramatically. The satellite imagery in FieldView has evolved from 30 meters per pixel to six meters per pixel. Less land into each pixel equates to more data and clarity. These detailed maps enable you to keep an even closer watch on your fields and catch problems you may not otherwise have seen.

 Field health imagery has improved dramatically over the last four years. The image on the left is from 2014, and on the right is 2018. The newer image has significantly more detail.Field health imagery has improved dramatically in recent years. The image on the left is from 2014, and on the right is 2018. The newer image has significantly more detail.

Deeper Scouting Insights

Jon Schram, a farmer in Nebraska, also uses satellite imagery to identify yield threatening issues that he could have overlooked with traditional scouting methods.

In the past, Jon has had issues with spider mites feeding on his corn. This insect, much like the soybean aphid, is notoriously challenging to identify. The impossibility of scouting every acre, compounded by the incredibly small size of spider mites, means they can easily go undetected. But using field health imagery on FieldView, Jon discovered he could scan every acre of his fields, drop pins and go directly to the spots showing signs of spider mite damage.

“It definitely would have been a lot harder to identify if I was just blindly walking into it.”
Jon Schram, Nebraska Farmer
The spider mite is almost impossible to detect by the human eye. Field health imagery can help find infested areas.The spider mite is almost impossible to detect by the human eye. Field health imagery can help find infested areas.

Connecting Field Imagery and Crop Performance

What makes this technology so impactful is the ability to track it over time, compare it to other data layers and even focus in on a specific target area within a field. You can look at images across one season or go back many seasons to understand patterns and trends. You can view imagery side-by-side with other data layers such as yield, soil, seed type or fertility. You can also save a specific region of an image to track its progress as well as your management decisions. Imagery is an important tool to enable you to determine what worked and what didn’t.

Scout More Efficiently and Effectively

As Jon from Nebraska put it, “You can’t spend every day all day walking fields.” With FieldView imagery, you can spend less time surveying fields on sweltering summer days. Instead you can quickly scan, drop pins and go straight to targeted locations. And who knows, satellite imagery may even lead to you solving a mystery or two in your own fields.

 

About The Author
As a product marketing lead for remote sensing at The Climate Corporation, Joe works closely with our product development team and scientists to create digital imagery tools that help farmers better understand what is happening in their fields. Born and raised in Southern Illinois farm country, Joe is a graduate of McKendree University.