Friday, April 25, 2008

Satellite Imagery to Forecast Yield for Wheat, Corn, Soybean and Other Crops

Using satellite imagery to measure plant biomass, a team of crop scientists has demonstrated an ability to forecast yields of various crops much sooner than traditional methods, and with considerable accuracy, announced Planalytics, Inc. as they introduced their new GreenReport E-newsletter.
"Since 1999, Planalytics and our strategic partner TerraMetrics Agriculture, Inc. (TMAI) have used satellite imagery to track and measure vegetative growth conditions across the U.S.", said Jed Lafferty, Managing Director of Planalytics Life Sciences. "The satellite images estimate the amount of chlorophyll that growing plants are producing", he continued. "By combining these 'Greenness' maps with our weather intelligence to create Planalytics GreenReport, we can provide our clients with more timely and actionable information than they get with just the drought monitor or soil moisture reports."
Recently, however, research conducted as part of the Greenness initiative has surfaced that adds considerable value to the plant biomass maps that Planalytics business meteorologists have been using for years. According to Lafferty, a team of crop scientists affiliated with TMAI and the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing program (KARS) at the University of Kansas have compiled six years of nationwide crop yield forecast results for wheat (winter, spring and durum), corn, soybeans, oats, barley and sorghum. The first winter wheat forecast for 2008 was produced on March 21st. "By using satellite imagery instead of traditional sampling techniques, crop yield forecasts can be generated up to two months before USDA estimates. And because they are based on images that are constantly being downloaded from the satellite, we can update these forecasts every two weeks throughout the growing season."
Lafferty goes on to add that, compared to initial USDA forecasts or normalized trends, the TMAI/KARS forecast models have been shown to be consistently more accurate in recent years. "It is hard to say whether it is the methodology that's used or the volatility of recent years' weather events, but these bi-weekly crop forecasts appear to answer many of the questions that our clients involved in grain trade have been struggling with."
Planalytics GreenReport and Crop Yield Forecasts are available through subscription only. For more information, go to

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