Submitted to: Remote Sensing of Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 6, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Recent advances in technology for variable rate applications of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides, with concurrent advances in global positioning systems (GPS), have provided a powerful tool for farmers. Farmers can now apply materials at variable rates within their field in response to crop and soil deficiencies. These advances have led to intense requirements for information about crop and soil conditions that can not be met by conventional means. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence that we can meet these information requirements using data acquired by remote sensing using currently-available ground-, aircraft- and satellite-based devices (radiometers). This review identified the most promising applications for remote sensing in the site-specific crop management (SSCM). These included using tractor-based sensors for on-the-go material application, aircraft-based sensors to provide quick-turnaround images of soil/crop conditions, and satellite-based sensors for mapping soil anomalies and deriving fine-resolution topographic elevation maps. Remote sensing can provide the information needed for widespread implementation of SSCM practices, resulting in maximal farm profits and minimal environmental impact.
This review addresses the potential of image-based remote sensing to provide spatially- and temporally-distributed information for precision crop management PCM). PCM is an agricultural management system designed to target crop and soil inputs according to within-field requirements to optimized profitability and protect the environment. Progress in PCM has been hampered by a lack of timely, distributed information on crop and soil conditions. Based on a review of the information requirements of PCM, eight areas were identified in which image-based remote sensing technology could provide information that is currently lacking or inadequate. Recommendations were made for applications with potential for near-term implementation with available remote sensing technology and instrumentation. We found that both aircraft- and satellite-based remote sensing could provide valuable information for PCM applications. Images from aircraft-based sensors have a unique role for monitoring seasonally-variable crop/soil conditions and for time-specific and time-critical crop management; current satellite-based sensors have limited, but important, application; and upcoming commercial earth observation satellites may provide the resolution, timeliness, and high quality required for many PCM attributes, such as restricted spectral range, coarse spatial resolution, slow turn-around time, and inadequate repeat coverage. According to experts in PCM, the potential market for remote sensing products in PCM is good. Future work should be focused on assimilating remotely-sensed information into existing decision support systems (DSS), and conducting economic and technical analysis of remote sensing applications with season-long experiments.