ISSUE 8 June 25, 1998
AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND SATELLITE IMAGE MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Over the years, many producers have told me that they like to fly over their fields and look around during the growing season. Some have said that they learn more from a fly-over then they would have walking around in the field. Even though I am a firm believer in walking around in the field, there is something to be said about viewing the field from the air. If just flying over a field can give information, how much more valuable can a permanent record of that experience be? Whether or not a producer is using site-specific management, being able to pinpoint problem areas for future management adjustment is one advantage of aerial photography or satellite imagery.
Current satellite imagery delivers pixel sizes of about 30 feet X 30 feet. This is adequate for many problem areas within and outside the Red River Valley. Some problems which occur within short distances, such as the yellow to green patterns of soybean iron chlorosis in a Fargo/Hegne soil association for example may best be represented by aerial photography.
When to take a picture or image depends on what the crops and problems are. It might be wise to schedule several shots throughout the growing season to see if patterns persist and to pick up early or late season problems not seen at other time frames. The following are general guidelines for taking shots in crop stages which in my limited experience seem to express well the health of the crop.
Wheat, barley- 5 leaf to heading
Corn- 12 inches to tassel
Potato- mid June- late July
Sugarbeet- late June - harvest
Soybean - 3 leaf - early September
For those with yield monitors, aerial photography and/or satellite imagery may make an additional layer of information which can lead to better management zone development and yield level explanations in the future.
Dr. Dave Franzen
NDSU Extension Soil Specialist