Satellites to Aid European Farmers

PARIS, Oct. 18 (UPI) — Farmers in Europe may soon get a hand in managing their fields courtesy of satellite observation and navigation, European Space Agency officials say.

The agency’s TalkingField initiative will allow for more precision in farming methods to produce crops more efficiently, an ESA release says.

“There are existing services variously employing Earth observation data, satellite navigation, farm management software and crop growth models, but TalkingFields is the first to combine them all,” ESA’s Tony Sephton said.

In the program, a farmer would request the service for an area defined using so-called satnav systems. Satellite data from several years revealing variation in crop growth through soil changes, combined with information from field sensors about weather and soil moisture, would augment the farmer’s own knowledge of his fields to tell him when and where to plant, fertilize and harvest, complete with satellite information to guide his tractors and harvesters.

“With TalkingFields the emphasis is on service: we’re not giving raw satellite data straight to farmers,” Sephton said.

“Instead, we advise them directly on actions to be taken throughout the growing season.”

Large intensive farms across Germany and Russia are participating in a demonstration program. Customers can choose from a portfolio of services, such as estimating a crop’s yield some two to four weeks before harvest, the ESA said.

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