At the core of new farming is precision agriculture—a farming management concept that uses technology to observe, measure, and respond to field variability in crops. Variability in soil types, elevation, and microenvironments demand a more strategic management system. One solution to this issue is variable rate technology (VRT). This technology allows producers to optimize equipment and inputs like fertilizer, herbicides, seed, and water by managing their fields in zones.
Variable rate technology takes a pre-generated map of a field that can be read by machinery to adjust inputs according to set parameters. There are a bevy of datasets that can be used for creating management zones and prescription maps, but one of the most common data parameters used is normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data obtained from satellites. Satellite data is easy to obtain, cost-effective, time saving, and consistently captures every field a grower may manage. But not all satellite imagery providers are the same. The satellite sensor and constellation selected can have a significant impact on input costs, yields, and the efficient use of resources. In this eBook, we’ll take a closer look at two satellite datasets in particular: PlanetScope and Sentinel-2.