New K-State publication - "Satellite Data and Agronomic Decisions"

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A new publication, titled “Satellite Data and Agronomic Decisions,” is now available through K-State Research and Extension. This publication is supported by Kansas Corn Commission.  The lead author is Ignacio Ciampitti, Crop Production and Cropping Systems specialist at K-State. The publication can be found online at

The goal of this publication is to help producers, crop consultants, and agronomists understand how to use satellite imagery to assist with the decision-making process in farming operations. The basic principles of how images of the earth’s surface are collected by satellites is discussed (Figure 1), along with the main characteristics of the satellites used for agricultural application. Readers can learn about the importance of resolution (Figure 2) and why resolution is an important consideration when choosing the correct satellite.

Figure 1. Interaction of the electromagnetic radiation (sunlight) and target: absorbance, transmittance, and reflectance. Infographic developed by Luciana Nieto and Ignacio Ciampitti, K-State Research and Extension.


Figure 2. Different satellites and characterization for spatial (pixel size, m), and temporal (revisit time) resolution. Infographic developed by Rai Schwalbert and Ignacio Ciampitti, K-State Research and Extension.


What are some applications of satellite data in agriculture?

  • Site-Specific Management (SSM), using prescription maps to vary seeding rate and fertilization, depending on the potential of the environments within the field.
  • In-seasonal (within a season) and temporal (across seasons) monitoring of crop vegetation (diagnosis of potential stress factors such as drought, diseases, and insects).
  • Forecasting crop yields at different scales: county, district, regional, state, and country level.
  • Crop scouting and sampling according to the field dimensions.
  • Environmental impact assessment, fires, floods, to track land use and land cover change.

What are we expecting for the future?

  • New public satellites allowing a finer time resolution (e.g. Sentinel-3) and avoiding problems with cloud interference.
  • Higher spectral resolution satellites that will benefit a more intensive monitoring of functional crop growth parameters (e.g., ESA FLEX mission - planned launch date is 2022).
  • More studies to focus on how to integrate information from different satellites while taking advantage of the different features from each one.
  • Development of remote sensing end-to-end solutions by agricultural providers for farmers (integration with ground sensors, mobile apps, etc.).





Ignacio Ciampitti, Crop Production and Cropping Systems Specialist

Luciana Nieto, KSUCROPS Dr. Ciampitti’s Lab

Rai Schwalbert, KSUCROPS Dr. Ciampitti’s Lab

Sebastian Varela, KSUCROPS Dr. Ciampitti’s Lab