Twenty five years of remote sensing in precision agriculture: Key advances and remaining knowledge gaps

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Precision agriculture dates back to the middle of the 1980's. Remote sensing applications in precision agriculture began with sensors for soil organic matter, and have quickly diversified to include satellite, aerial, and hand held or tractor mounted sensors. Wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation initially focused on a few key visible or near infrared bands. Today, electromagnetic wavelengths in use range from the ultraviolet to microwave portions of the spectrum, enabling advanced applications such as light detection and ranging (LiDAR), fluorescence spectroscopy, and thermal spectroscopy, along with more traditional applications in the visible and near infrared portions of the spectrum. Spectral bandwidth has decreased dramatically with the advent of hyperspectral remote sensing, allowing improved analysis of specific compounds, molecular interactions, crop stress, and crop biophysical or biochemical characteristics. A variety of spectral indices now exist for various precision agriculture applications, rather than a focus on only normalised difference vegetation indices. Spatial resolution of aerial and satellite remote sensing imagery has improved from 100's of m to sub-metre accuracy, allowing evaluation of soil and crop properties at fine spatial resolution at the expense of increased data storage and processing requirements. Temporal frequency of remote sensing imagery has also improved dramatically. At present there is considerable interest in collecting remote sensing data at multiple times in order to conduct near real time soil, crop and pest management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-371
Number of pages14
JournalBiosystems Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support by the USDA-BARD fund through Research Grant Award No. IS-4255-09 is acknowledged. The assistance of Mr. Tyler Nigon in preparing figures is acknowledged.


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