Space Technology in Agriculture

Space Technology is been widely used in our routine life, from televisions and mobile phones to high-tech devices like Satellite Navigation and Earth Observation (Remote Sensing technology for identifying and mapping the resources/data).

GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) is a satellite system which is used to locate the exact geographic location of a user’s receiver in any part of the world. GNSS is widely used in Aviation, Shipping, Agriculture, Disaster Management and many other sectors. Satellite images can be received through GNSS to the ground stations which can be used for geographical mapping of the resources / data. GNSS Reflectrometry (GNSS-R) has been already demonstrated in low earth orbit to measure sea surface heights. There is increasing interest in GNSS-R also for land surface applications. Potential land surface applications are soil moisture measurement, vegetation growth, image mapping. Since the GNSS transmitters are active continuously, suitable receivers could measure with much improved sampling compared with existing low Earth orbit Earth observation satellites which only allow repeat viewing every few days at best. GNSS-R has several other advantages, but also brings the challenge of making good quality measurements despite the very low signal strength.

Remotely sensed images can be used to identify vegetation damages such as insect damage, weed damage, nutrient deficiency…etc., and plant populations via electromagnetic spectrum. Data from remote sensing information can be used as base maps in variable applications of fertilizers and pesticides. It allows farmers to treat only affected areas of a field. Problems within a field may be identified remotely before they can be visually identified on a wider scale. Ranchers use remote sensing to identify prime grazing areas, overgrazed areas or areas of weed infestations. Lending institutions use remote sensing data to evaluate the relative values of land by comparing archived images with those of surrounding fields.

When electromagnetic energy from the sun strikes plants, depending upon the wavelength of the energy and characteristics of individual plants, the energy will be either reflected, absorbed, or transmitted. Reflected energy which bounces off leaves and is identified by human eyes as the green colour of plants as the chlorophyll in the leaves absorbs much of the energy in the visible wavelengths and the green colour is reflected. Sunlight that is not reflected or absorbed is transmitted through the leaves to the ground. Interactions between reflected, absorbed, and transmitted energy can be detected by remote sensing. The differences in leaf colours, textures, shapes or even how the leaves are attached to plants, determine how much energy will be reflected, absorbed or transmitted. The relationship between reflected, absorbed and transmitted energy is used to determine spectral signatures of individual plants. Spectral signatures are unique to plant species. Remote sensing is used to identify stressed areas in fields by first establishing the spectral signatures of healthy plants. The spectral signatures of stressed plants appear altered from those of healthy plants.

How it works?

The sun emits electromagnetic energy to plants. A portion of the electromagnetic energy is transmitted through the leaves. The sensor on the satellite detects the reflected energy. The data is then transmitted to the ground station. The data is analysed and displayed on field maps.

At Aryavarta Space Organization, we are initiating a similar kind of project with European partners from 8 countries. This project is focused on utilizing space technology – Remote Sensing and GIS Applications for innovative water management system by creating a common platform for seasonal weather forecasting, early in-season crop mapping, in-season water demand monitoring, long term irrigation forecasting, and soil moisture monitoring. Pilot demonstrations are to take place in a few European countries. We are working on preparing for the local pilot demonstration of this project and based on the result and analysis, we aim to extend the benefits to our base country – India, where agriculture is essential in our economy and utilizing space application, will help the agricultural sector through effective implementation of this project. We aim to develop a common platform, for directly accessible to the end users in, user friendly language (or through graphical representation) where all these information and data, about water irrigation, ground water sources, moisture level in the soil, weather forecasting..etc, will be available on a single click of a computer mouse or just a touch away on smart phone.

We should accept the fact that Rocket Science and Space Technologies are not as difficult as it is seen from the front, rather we are using space applications in almost at each stage, directly or indirectly, in our daily routine. Space is not just a cup of tea for space scientists, but it is a bowl of fruits for all those who has passion to know more and explore the space.

Sincerely,

Dr. Rushi GHADAWALA

President, International Affairs

Aryavarta Space Organization

Email: pd.aryavarta@gmail.com (official),

            info@aryavartaspace.org (secretariat)

Website: http://www.aryavartaspace.org

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