Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Energy News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Future Grains
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 12, 2016

These two satellite images depict the An Giang Province in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, a major rice-producing region, at different times of year. Dark blue and black areas are inundated and have low biomass, while white and gray areas are other crops like row crops and trees. The differences in color indicate a change in the ratio between soil moisture and biomass. Image courtesy NASA.

When global food prices spiked dramatically in late 2007 and into 2008, the costs of many basic dietary staples doubled or even tripled around the world, sparking protests and riots. Panicked governments stopped exporting food, aggravating the crisis.

Almost as troubling: the crisis had taken the world by surprise.

To keep it from happening again, international leaders created an agricultural monitoring group, bringing together representatives from governments and aid groups. The initiative, dubbed the Group on Earth Observation's Global Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM), looked in large part to data from Earth-imaging satellites, hoping to use it to make better predictions about weather and future crops.

One of the key crops to monitor was rice. It is a major food staple for billions of people around the world, including in some of the world's poorest regions. But it is one of the most complicated crops to make predictions about, and it has no sizeable futures market, largely because traders are missing the kind of information GEOGLAM was founded to provide.

As a result, the market for rice is incredibly volatile, putting investors, producers and, ultimately, consumers at risk. A flood or drought in Southeast Asia can mean hundreds of thousands of people worldwide will starve. The GEOGLAM initiative set about to change that.

A Complete Picture
Among the satellites most popularly used for Earth-imaging data are the Landsat series, in orbit since 1972. The latest, Landsat 8, launched in 2013 and covers Earth's surface every 16 days, capturing images in a variety of ways, including two thermal infrared bandwidths. The thermal information is especially important for detecting crop stress and supporting crop predictions, as it reveals moisture and temperature on the land surface, in plants and in the lower atmosphere.

The Terra and Aqua satellites also provide important images of Earth using the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) instrument. They map Earth every day or two in 36 visible and infrared bandwidths. The frequency of those images helps monitor changes in crop stages, plants' responses to weather and farm activities such as irrigation or tillage.

Making predictions based on raw satellite data, however, is no simple task. "You have to be an expert to transform that data into useful information," says Nathan Torbick.

That's where Torbick's company, Applied Geosolutions, came in. The company, where Torbick is a director, has for a decade been researching applications for Earth-imaging satellite data. With the help of two Small Business Innovation Research contracts from Stennis Space Center, they designed a web-based program, called the Rice Decision Support System (RDSS). The software combines data from NASA satellites and others, incorporating measures of rice fields, yield modeling and weather forecasts "to give you a complete picture of what's going on on the ground," says Torbick.

Using that data, it then generates information in real time about rice coverage, growth stages, deviations from normal, and expected yield around the globe.

Eyes on the World
Abroad, the system is focused on pilot sites in Java, Indonesia, and Vietnam, where the data gathered is used primarily for supporting food-security programs and commodity markets.

In the United States, parts of the country's two biggest rice-producing regions - Eastern Arkansas and the Sacramento Valley - are running out of water. There, Applied GeoSolutions has paid partnerships with farmers and agencies to help them plan their growing season and manage resources, especially irrigation. The imagery also proves which farms should receive incentives for using alternative irrigation methods, a function RDSS also performs at a pilot site in Brazil.

Applied GeoSolutions now supports the GEOGLAM initiative, helping to supply producers, buyers and investors worldwide with more detailed, comprehensive information and projections about rice production. "When we're blind to what production will be, the market becomes speculative, and volatility prevails. This is not good for business, government, or consumers," says Bradley Doorn, program manager for the Water Resources Applied Sciences program in NASA Headquarters' Earth Sciences Division.

To learn more about this NASA spinoff, read the original article from Spinoff 2016.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Benefits at NASA
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
One crop, two ways, multiple benefits
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 08, 2016
Nitrogen fixation is one of the best examples of cooperation in nature. Soil microbes - naturally occurring bacteria in the soil - work with plants to pull nitrogen from the air. They turn the nitrogen into a form the plant is able to use. In return, the plant lets the microbes eat some of the sugars it makes. Faba beans (also called fava beans) are one example of plants that work with soi ... read more

NOAA's GOES-S, T and U Satellites Are Shaping Up

NASA image: Haze hovers over Indo-Gangetic Plain

ASA Awards Letter Contract for Landsat 9 Imager-2

NASA analyzes Paraguay's heavy rainfall

Northrop Grumman to support U.S. Air Force GPS modernization

Europe's first decade of navigation satellites

Indra will deploy navigation aid systems in 20 Chinese airports

China builds ground service center for satnav system

NUS study shows the causes of mangrove deforestation in Southeast Asia

The Amazon's future

Tens of millions of trees in danger from California drought

Modeling Amazonian transitional forest micrometeorology

NREL's Min Zhang keeps her 'hugs' happy, leading to biofuel breakthroughs

IU scientists create 'nano-reactor' for the production of hydrogen biofuel

EU probes UK aid to convert huge coal power plant to biomass

A metabolic pathway in cyanobacteria could yield better biofuels

NREL and CSEM jointly set new efficiency record with dual-junction solar cell

Renewable energy for state renewable portfolio standards yielded sizable benefits

Visualizing atoms of perovskite crystals

Optimum band gap for hybrid silicon/perovskite tandem solar cell

Scotland sees local benefits from renewables

Dutch vote 'setback' to green energy plan: Greenpeace

South Australian Government renews energy for change

Approval of South Australian Wind Farm

11 killed in China coal mine collapse: reports

Eight survivors found after Chinese mine cave-in

Chinese mine collapse leads to owner's suicide: state media

Hard economic lessons as China's coal boom ends

Almost 60 confirmed dead in China landslide

Mao Ze-gone as giant statue of Communist leader 'demolished'

Taiwan's Tsai urges answers on Hong Kong booksellers

Hong Kong protesters call for release of missing booksellers

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement