Satamap & PCT: do more with imagery in PCT

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.

If you are already a Satamap Subscriber and interested in using AgCloud or AgMap please fill out this form.

If you would like to subscribe to Satamap, starting at $99 / month please click here.

There will be a followup post with more specifics on using Satamap data inside AgCloud and AgMap.

Satamap data stretched across individual paddocks in PCT’s AgCloud

 

Defining zones for variable rate urea prescription map using Satamap data in AgCloud

An older tweet showing what the AgMap iPad app looks like:

Satamap info series videos

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.

Potential in flow accumulation?

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 Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia) and used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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.

More accurate roads and waterways in Satamap

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:

New roads layer for Satamap uses openstreetmap.org. Imagery captured 5 Feb 2016 over Esperance.

New roads layer for Satamap uses openstreetmap.org. Imagery captured 5 Feb 2016 over Esperance. Landsat 8. © OpenStreetMap contributors

Easy to use monitoring and comparisons is at Satamap’s core

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 2014

 

Crop condition north of Moree September 2015

Crop condition north of Moree September 2015

 

Comparing crop condition in September north of Moree. Left is 2014, right is 2015.

Comparing crop condition in September north of Moree. Left is 2014, right is 2015.

Using data to take proactive action on barnyard grass

Satamap image of fallow captured in 2013 SW of Moree. Yellow/green areas are higher biomass

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.

Variable rate map constructed from Satamap data for residual herbicide application.

 

Summer weeds in Satamap: new dimension for monitoring fallows

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

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!

Better imagery more often: 10m pixels every 10 days rolling out on Satamap thanks to Sentinel 2A

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.

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.

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.

Soil acidity affecting chickpeas

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 04-07-2015 showing effects of soil acidity in chickpeas

Satamap image captured 05-08-2015 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.

 

Deep Ripping Trial

Below are two Satamap images showing the crop biomass response in a deep ripping trial to decompact soil (Sand) that was previously compacted by random traffic, clay spreading and incorporation.

The trial strip was ripped to 600mm using a Grizzly deep digger in March 2014, a 12% yield response was achieved in 2014.

With the visual response observed in the Satamap images this season (2015) we are expecting a much bigger yield response. The ripped treatment has handled the dry Spring conditions much better with its ability to access soil moisture much deeper in the soil profile.

The Satamap imagery has been a useful tool to further validate the response to deep ripping before implementation on responsive soil types over the whole farm.

Image Taken 30th September 2015 (Fathom Barley)

Image Taken 30th September 2015 (Fathom Barley)

Image Taken 10th October 2015 (Fathom Barley)

Image Taken 10th October 2015 (Fathom Barley)