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Using SAR to Advance Agricultural Assessments and Decision Support Tools

NISAR Mission and sat

NASA Harvest and partners are forging ahead on a synergistic effort with the NASA ISRO SAR (NISAR) Mission to grow the use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for agricultural applications and decision support tools. Harvest partners are working with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS), the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Universities, domestic producers, and industry to improve assessment of production, adoption of sustainability practices, and enhance farmer income. We are doing this by scaling metrics of crop type, irrigation, soil moisture, production, and waterfowl habitat. 


Monitoring tools at sites, resechers collecting data.


SAR instruments offer unique observations to assess crops due to their all-weather capabilities and sensitivity to crop and field characteristics (i.e. dielectric constant, roughness, orientation) different from those derived from optical instruments such as Landsat or MODIS. Harvest team members recently completed a season-long airborne campaign using the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) platform to collect time series L-band microwave observations over instrumented croplands in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Georgia. These training data and UAVSAR flight data will be open access for the community. 


SAR for ag data in Arkansas


The team is now working hard on developing physical and machine learning algorithms and prototype products, such as crop area, irrigation status, and soil moisture retrieval. Some sites are also JECAM regions thus we are working with colleagues at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) on fusing multi-source data, such as Radarsat, PALSAR, HLS, Sentinel-1, and Planet, for greater synergy across the GEOGLAM Community of Practice and SAR workflow standardization. As Sentinel-1 archives grow and we approach NISAR launch, the community will have a lot more open access and operational SAR data coming online that can directly support agriculture decision making. Please feel free to reach out to our team if you have interest in SAR, the open access Application Ready Data, or software tools.


mapping examples


News Date
May 28, 2020
Nathan Torbick