In order to learn about the current state of the use of agricultural monitoring systems based on satellite observations, Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) experts met this month in Santiago, Chile with Alyssa Whitcraft, Antonio Sanchez and Michael Humber, representing NASA Harvest and GEOGLAM, with the objective of strengthening the capacity of the international community to produce and disseminate relevant forecasts, as well as timely and accurate agricultural production, using remote sensing data. NASA Harvest’s presence at the event was funded by NASA Applied Sciences.
GEOGLAM is the Global Initiative for Agricultural Monitoring of the Group of Observations of the Earth, which was launched in June 2011 in Paris by the Ministries of Agriculture of the Group of Twenty (G20), composed of the most industrialized and emerging countries on the planet. “We want to strengthen global agricultural monitoring by improving the use of remote sensing tools for crop production projections and yield forecasting," explained Alyssa Whitcraft during her presentation, noting that "in this way, by providing observations from satellites and integrate them with measurements in the territories, we help generate reliable, accurate, timely and continuous information on crop monitoring and yield forecasts."
GEOGLAM Latin America was initiated in 2017, with INIA joining in 2017. Marta Alfaro, National Deputy Director of R&D of the institution, noted that "Our researchers have been training in the use of these new technologies and integrated into the networks that seek to support food security and sustainable development in a context of climate change. In this process we have realized that even more important than the tools (tablets, platforms and apps) is the speed and efficiency of the data processes, so that the field logistics can be modified in a timely and measured way. GEOGLAM complies with this requirement, which is why these meetings are beneficial."
During the day, six technical presentations were made by INIA researchers from different regional centers, all of them linked to precision agriculture and cutting-edge technology. The exhibitions were given by Claudio Balbontín, from INIA Intihuasi (Coquimbo region), who presented "Satellite agricultural platform for monitoring the determination of water requirements of the main crops in the country"; Marcel Fuentes, from INIA Quilamapu (Ñuble region), who referred to the "Monitoring of the condition of vegetation for all of Chile through satellite images"; Cristóbal Campos of INIA Quilamapu, who presented "New platform for the deployment and visualization of satellite products, using Google Earth, linked to GEOGLAM members"; by Dagoberto Villarroel, of INIA Tamel Aike (Aysén region), who presented "Estimation of dry matter in pastures by means of satellite images"; of Marcelino Claret, of INIA Quilamapu, who exhibited the "Thermal zoning by means of satellite images"; and Hernán Aguilera, also from INIA Quilamapu, who spoke about Precision Agriculture.
The latter warned that "There is a large amount of data that can be obtained in agriculture, requiring a very thorough management when using them, especially when applying the data to the real world. For this it is necessary to use expert systems such as neural networks, decision trees and supervised and unsupervised methods of analysis, among others, that provide us with efficient management systems, based on the condition of the crop in a specific place. GEOGLAM platforms fit our approach, since their data is processed and easy to acquire."
Additionally, the researcher Patricia Oliva from the Universidad Mayor spoke about "Hémera Observation Center of the Earth - Capacities for cooperation with INIA"; while INIA researchers Quilamapu Rubén Ruiz, Cristóbal Campos and Rodrigo Quintana presented the topics "INIA / IDE Meteorological Network"; "INIA's computer capabilities"; and "Equipment for field measurement", respectively.
At the end of the day Marta Alfaro stressed that these types of technological capabilities will allow INIA to complement its existing work and thus transform simple data into relevant information that helps decision-making. As an example, he stressed the utility it will have in cases of agricultural emergencies, in irrigation schedules, and in interactions with other services of the Ministry of Agriculture for "this new era of developments for the sector." In addition to this technical collaboration meeting with INIA, NASA Harvest representatives held a one day meeting with the MinAgri, end users of GEOGLAM products who can use the data provided for agricultural decision making.