Starting this season, users with a current Satamap subscription can access imagery inside Precision Crop Technology (PCT)’s online AgCloud and iPad app AgMap.
Importing Satamap imagery into the PCT platform allows you to view data scaled across individual paddocks and generate variable rate maps, plus more.
There is a one off fee of $100 per grower to setup your account with PCT which includes importing your paddock boundaries as this does take some work. Once set up, as long as your Satamap subscription is current you can use the Satamap Importer to load up the latest satellite imagery (and old imagery too!).
PCT has been providing services to agriculture in Australia and internationally since 2001. PCT offer several other quality precision agriculture tools inside the above mentioned applications.
There is a couple very casual videos that have been put together the explain to Satamap users some of the new features available in Satamap. The first two videos have been published and I thought it would be a great way to show to the blog readers some Satamap internals and general usage. You see how easy it is the access satellite imagery, but also see the cloud risk and how to check for this.
The first video looks at Sentinel 2 data and why it doesn’t line up with the original Landsat 8 data. Also toward the end of the video I look at how to check for cloud.
The second video looks at the new User Data feature and shows off paddock boundaries and some high resolution drone data.
You may remember reading the post Drones and Satamap where I discussed the difference between the two technologies. In this post we are going to take that paddock and examine a bit closer one factor that may have contributed to the water logging event.
With elevation data derived from there Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Digital Elevation Models, Geoscience Australia have a national dataset that with a bit of processing on our end can produce flow accumulation maps. When applied to a system like Satamap we are able to start understand the macro influence on a paddock, particularly the catchment area for water that runs through the paddock.
In this example you can see that water accumulated from at least two fallow paddocks which could have contributed to the water logging event.
Grey to black areas show where water accumulates. Flow accumulation data is adapted from SRTM derived DEM maps available from Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) and used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.
The elevation data from SRTM is fairly low resolution but used in this context can potentially create some valuable information. Flow accumulation is not yet available in Satamap, but if this is a feature you would like to see Australia wide, please let me know on Twitter (@SatamapAU) or through the contact from at satamap.com.au.
Today we have upgraded the roads database that sits over the top of all the Satamap imagery. It uses the amazing Open Street Map (OSM) resource. OSM is a world wide dataset that is able to be edited by anyone. So if a road name is incorrect or the road is missing you are able to go in and fix it up. Although this road network is now live in Satamap please let us know if you come across any issues. It may be a little bit slow to load for the first couple days while it ‘warms up’ the map memory but should be speedy before you know it. Check it out:
A simple blog post today to get back to one of the core use cases for Satamap. One feature that differentiates Satamap from other satellite imagery services is the ‘no boundaries’ approach. You can jump in and use Satamap and our smallest subscription unit is 3 million hectares. If you are monitoring 2000 ha, it’s still excellent value at only $900 + GST a year for one 3 million hectare tile. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to survey the district condition, compare crops and look at the historic and current biomass performance and variability of that property you are looking at buying or leasing. Lets look at a district perspective example.
Lets consider the region north of Moree, NSW in September. The year 2014 was a relatively tough season with the best performing crops in the east. In contrast 2015 saw a change of seasons which is reflected in the imagery below. The Satamap slider bar allows you to put up any two dates one on top of the other for direct comparison shown in the third screen capture.
Crop condition north of Moree September 2014
Crop condition north of Moree September 2015
Comparing crop condition in September north of Moree. Left is 2014, right is 2015.
Satamap image of fallow captured in 2013 SW of Moree. Yellow/green areas are higher biomass
While most of our users primarily use Satamap as a scouting, management and monitoring tool, you can export Landsat 8 data from Satamap to be used in farm mapping software such as Farmworks and SMS Advanced. The following example is thanks to Brad Donald at B&W Rural in Moree. You may have spotted him around the country flying the AgEagle UAV. Brad is an agronomist and has a passion for technology in farming.
Weedseekers/WeedIts are great for spot spraying weeds that are already established – but this is reactive rather than proactive. Residual herbicides such as Imazapic (Flame) are commonly used to aid in the control of summer grasses such as barnyard grass. Brad thought that if he could get an image from last summer that represents areas of the paddock that have a high biomass it would be a sensible assumption of a high seed bank. He would apply a higher herbicide rate in these areas than the rest of the paddock for the 2015/16 summer.
Brad exported an image from 2013 as a POINT shapefile. With this he was easily able to import into SMS Advanced to generated a variable rate map. The ability to import into SMS Advanced and Trimble’s Farmworks as a POINT shapefile means these software packages deal with the data similar to yield data which makes for easy processing.
Brad’s tip for this project is that the map was written to simply change water volume applied, which was done automatically by the rate controller. Application rate changes are limited to staying within certain pressure ranges for droplet size management.
Variable rate map constructed from Satamap data for residual herbicide application.
So you may think satellite imagery is only good for the growing season. It’s time to rethink – especially with the new Sentinel 2A imagery coming soon.
The following satellite image was captured south west of Moree on 31-01-2016 from ESA’s Sentinel 2A satellite. The photos surrounding it are ground truth of data shown on the map. These photos were taken on the 5th of Feb – 5 days later.
The sub-tropical farming region in NSW & QLD (areas that receive summer and winter rainfall) are currently dealing with glyphosate resistance issues in some summer grasses particularly awnless barnyard grass. The Satamap app allows agronomists and farmers to easily navigate (using iPad GPS) to the areas in fallow paddocks that show up as vegetation and identify what is growing there. This is particularly valuable in no-till systems where tall stubble can hide grass.
Note that Satamap is not a replacement for on the ground monitoring, just a tool to help out. The imagery will only ‘see’ clusters of weeds as it is averaging reflectance over a 10 x 10m square. There have been some surprised (me included!) at the extent of vegetation showing in seemingly ‘clean’ fallows.
The new Sentinel 2A imagery is proving to be an ideal tool for finding weeds in summer fallows at Moree
Satamap is designed to monitor large areas with no local information (e.g. paddock boundaries, field names etc). It is almost as simple as using Google Maps except our imagery is current and has the Satamap Vegetation Index applied (similar to NDVI). We also have a true natural colour image available for every date.
A new look and more accurate roads and man made features layer coming soon!
I have some exciting news. The European Space Agency have launched a new satellite as part of their space strategy called Sentinel 2A. This satellite is designed to provide the Earth with 10m resolution imagery every 10 days. And even better is they will be launching a sister satellite so we can get down to a 5 day cycle. This imagery will be available in Satamap as soon as possible.
For those lucky enough to have access to the Moree tile, we are testing Sentinel 2A imagery now and it looks like this inside Satamap:
Satamap Vegetation Index using Sentinel 2A as imagery source captured 31-01-2016. Centre paddock is sorghum.
Lets compare that to a pan-sharpened Landsat 8 image from September 2015:
Satamap Vegetation Index from Landsat 8 image captured 22-09-2015. Paddocks include chickpeas, wheat and barley.
Not only is it a higher resolution but it comes at a 10 day cycle rather than the 16 day cycle of Landsat 8. Both satellite sources are of immense value and will be available in Satamap for the 2016 winter season. For the time being we are still working hard to make sure we can integrate Sentinel 2A imagery as smooth as possible so expect it to roll out to your tile/s some time over the next few months.
Well it’s 2016 and what better way to start then reflect on the year that was. For the team at Penagcon (who are passionate forward thinking agronomists and crop their own country near Bellata, NSW) something that stood out this year was soil acidity in chickpeas. When I emailed James Miller to answer a few question about Satamap he finished with how Satamap has helped them identify and begin to look at ways to solve the problem with soil acidity. The response to my questions are below.
James Miller, Penagcon P/L.
– What reservations you before trying Satamap?
We began using Satamap in early April 2015 to gain another view of crop production. Initially I was interested in comparing the images to previous yield maps and paddock histories and being familiar with NDVI, I was keen to observe whether these would correlate to the Satamap images.
– Did it meet or even exceed expectations?
Satamap images for the 2015 season and previous seasons (13 & 14) generally correlate very well to our current fields’ performance characteristics and where available previous yield maps reference very closely to the images.
– How do you use it in your business?
We currently use the images to evaluate crop performance during the season, further examine problem areas and scrutinise field trials and demonstrations for future seasons. It has been valuable in highlighting/emphasising areas of sodicity, salinity, acidity, heightened weed activity, missed strips in spraying and planting, varietal differences and compaction.
– Does it add value to your business?
Yes, I find Satamap adds that ‘extra dimension’ to field scouting and crop management that is important in addressing production differences and helping tweak our systems for maximum performance
– Will you continue to use it?
Yes, I think it broadens our field ability. At present we are referencing the 2015 Satamap images with yield maps to produce variable rate application maps for soil ameliorants such as lime and gypsum. One current field we are working on is pictured below. It will be receiving variable rate lime application to assist with pH deficiencies and excess nutrient solubility namely, Al and Mn associated with this. The brown-yellow to light green areas have been consistently lower performing sections of the field highlighted through yield maps and observed crop scouting. These areas have been grid soil sampled using the Satamap images, with results confirming the need for amelioration with lime.
Satamap image captured 04-07-2015 showing effects of soil acidity in chickpeas
Satamap image captured 05-08-2015 showing effects of soil acidity in chickpeas
Thanks James for the great feedback! To anyone reading this you will notice the image quality difference between the July and August images. Some time in July we started pan-sharpen our Landsat 8 imagery to 15 m pixels which is a significant quality improvement over the original 30 m. Soon we will have 10 m pixels available. Check out the next blog post for more information.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones have become very popular and I’ve had great privilege to research the potential of these tools in broadacre farming. See my Nuffield report here.
I’d like to share how imagery from drones complements that from Satamap.
Below is a Satamap image showing biomass variability in chickpeas caused by water logging. Following is an image captured from a Canon camera (S110) in an SenseFly eBee in the same paddock on roughly the same date. See the red square for location of image.
Water logging in chickpeas – Satamap image
The Satamap imagery is displayed at a resolution of 15 m where as the drone imagery is around 4 cm – a massive difference. The Satamap image accurately exposes all areas of water logging as lower biomass.
In addition, the drone imagery can see individual plants and tramlines. Of particular interest the rows that were planted closer together have survived the water logging event better then all others. Note the blue arrows. This is detail that is not detected from the Satamap imagery.
UAV image showing water logging in chickpeas – courtesy of Australian UAV (www.auav.com.au)
Now lets look at cost – to map the entire 220ha paddock with the drone may have cost $990 (at $4.50/ha) which is the total of a one year subscription to Satamap for a whole 3+ million hectare tile updated every 16 days. Of course there is value in both datasets but of a different kind. Applications of drone data such as identifying weeds in crop, counting plant stand, 3D modelling of crops are all exciting applications reserved for drones.
In summary, the data collected from these two different platforms has totally different scope and work in parallel rather than competing.