In today’s increasingly data-driven world, imagery providers ranging from satellites to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are becoming popular tools for analyzing crop conditions and aiding in-season agricultural management decisions.

Images obtained from satellites, manned contract flights and UAV flights can potentially reveal a variety of crop issues including soil variations, pest and fungal infestations not apparent from the field edge, planter skips, compaction, etc.

Plus, there is the health angle — you don’t have to physically walk the fields if you have allergies, for example.

Zach VanderLeest and Ryan Bergman, Iowa State University Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering staff members, have been studying aerial imaging for several years.

"There has been a lot of improvement on the sensor side of aerial imagery," notes VanderLeest. "New, smaller, higher-resolution cameras used in UAVs can provide more data, for example," he notes.

Satellite imagery

Resolution of images from satellites is generally similar to that of a common yield map, notes VanderLeest....