USDA Enlists Added Satellite Remote Sensing Images

Kurt Lawton

USDA crop analysts add another tool to their crop monitoring capability by approving DMCii as a remote sensing solutions provider.

DMCii was invited to supply satellite imagery to the Office of Global Analysis, USDA, Foreign Agricultural Service (OGA USDA FAS) because it provides a unique combination of technical advantages for agricultural monitoring. Firstly, its satellites provide 22m and 32m Ground Sample Distance (GSD) multi-spectral imagery with a large 650km swath width that is capable of monitoring large areas rapidly. Secondly, the company is able to acquire daily images of a given location by coordinating the multi-satellite DMC constellation. Finally, multispectral image data is ideal for monitoring crop growth and is delivered in a highly calibrated Landsat-compatible format for immediate use in crop monitoring applications. DMC data has long been in regular use by precision agriculture services in Europe, where the speed of acquisition, accuracy and very large image size are exactly what is needed for successful monitoring of critical crop growth stages across entire countries.

Bob Tetrault, USDA Satellite Imagery Archive Manager, commented, “The use of DMC satellite data allows the crop analysts to receive broad area, multi-temporal monitoring coverage which is critical in our operational global food security analysis.”

Dave Hodgson, Managing Director DMCii, added, “Our multi-satellite imaging service is ideal for frequent coverage and crop monitoring as the data is collected as large images and delivered in a highly calibrated Landsat-compatible format so applications don’t need to be reinvented.”

DMCii delivers highly calibrated ortho-rectified imagery that can be imported directly into GIS applications. It has delivered 32metre GSD multispectral imagery since the first DMC satellite launched in 2002. The recent launch of two new 22metre GSD satellites, UK-DMC2 and Deimos-1 has greatly increased the imaging capacity of the constellation and has also doubled the number of image pixels per hectare to boost the effectiveness of the system for monitoring agriculture.

By coordinating the constellation of satellites, DMCii covers vast areas within a very short space of time so that data shows the state of vegetation for a very specific period. For example, DMCii coordinated the imaging of 38 countries in Europe within tight time windows specified by each country. DMCii will provide a rapid delivery of data to OGA USDA FAS so that it can be used for rapid decision making during growth seasons.

Cross compatibility is another important consideration when using different satellite imagery. The multi-spectral imagers used on the DMC satellites provide exactly the same spectral bands as the Landsat bands 2, 3 and 4 (R, G, NIR). They are also specially designed to provide highly calibrated imagery, with negligible differences in radiometry between DMC satellites so that data can be combined seamlessly. The large size of DMC images saves considerable time and expense for end users, because they cover huge areas and reduce the need to process large numbers of datasets.

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