Satellite Imagery is Your Field-Scouting Wingman

Sally Krueger

Jun 24, 2019

There are many use cases for satellite imagery in agriculture. Farmers commonly take various measurements from satellite imagery (e.g. red, green, blue, near-infrared) to calculate metrics/indices and help estimate crop health. Satellite imagery allows you to be an even better scout and problem solver, and this is a big time-saver. That's why satellite imagery is your field-scouting wingman!

Satellite Imagery Gives You a Bird’s-Eye View

Images for Every Field

NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) is a popular vegetation index, but FBN provides EVI (Enhanced Vegetation Index) images.

Both NDVI and EVI measure vegetation biomass by looking at the difference in light reflected in near-infrared (which healthy vegetation strongly reflects) and visible (which healthy vegetation absorbs) bands.

However, EVI compensates for atmospheric distortions and distortions due to the ground cover below the canopy.

In addition, EVI has higher sensitivity to dense vegetation. By reading the light spectrums of crop images, EVI provides an indication of the stage of crop growth and health. It is similar to NDVI satellite images, but includes image improvements that are not included in NDVI.

What Types of Images Does FBN Use? 

Satellite imagery is now accessible directly within FBN Maps and is included with FBN membership at no extra charge. Any member who has field boundaries drawn in FBN will receive satellite images.

We display three types of images:

  • Absolute

  • Relative

  • Raw

The "Absolute" layer can be used to show how far along a crop is in its growth, to identify the variation of vegetative vigor within a field, and to compare a field’s vegetative growth against other fields on the operation.

The "Relative" layer takes the range of EVI values from the Absolute layer and effectively amplifies the variation across a green to red color scale. This layer is used to identify the variation of vegetative growth within a single field.

The "Raw" layer shows a raw image of the field on the date the image was taken. This layer can be used to identify clouds or shadows of clouds that might be showing up in the EVI layers.

Are There Any Obstacles to Getting Pictures of Crops and Fields via Satellite Imagery? 

No technology is perfect, but satellite imagery has advanced tremendously over the years, and the images are helpful for detecting problematic parts of your fields. Keep in mind it is… well, ...taking a picture from space.

If clouds and other obstacles do block the satellite’s view of cropland, you should get an indication of that in your map view. It might appear as a grey patch, for example.

That’s why reviewing multiple layers of imagery, and having several images at different stages of crop development, will provide the most useful imagery of activity in your fields.

PRO TIP: When it’s scouting and fieldwork season, wouldn’t it be nice to have an extra set of hands, or eyes, to help you spot potential problem areas across your fields?

Technical Specs for FBN Satellite Imagery 

  • New images are loaded every 5 to 7 days

  • Members can access images going back 12 months

  • The imagery has a 10-meter resolution

WATCH: Types of Images and How to Access FBN Satellite Imagery (9 min video)

How do I find EVI Satellite images in FBN?

EVI imagery is located in the FBN Maps section of My Operation. You can see satellite maps by using the “map types” drop-down menu located on the left of the screen, just above the map image and selecting "Satellite." Members can access new satellite images every few days from their online account or the FBN App, and images go back 12 months, so you can benchmark progress and see how fields compare, year over year.

Sally Krueger

Jun 24, 2019