With Earth’s population growing at an exponential rate, the future of agriculture — in particular precision agriculture — will continue to grow in importance as the world works to support its population.

Satellite monitoring, a key component of precision ag, aids in the analysis of everything from crop type and crop health to yield prediction. And as the global agricultural stakes are raised as the population balloons, so too does the need for increased access to extremely high quality imagery, on a reliable and frequent basis.

The ability of farmers to gain truly actionable insights is absolutely contingent on the use of high quality imagery, which can provide accurate measurements of what is happening in the field.

With that in mind, this week UrtheCast attended the industry-leading InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. There it showcased not only its current four-sensor system — including Deimos-1, specifically built for precision ag — but also the UrtheDaily™ Constellation, a planned eight-satellite constellation being designed to image the entire planet’s landmass (excluding Antarctica), every day, at 10:30 am local time.

Eyes on heightened precision
UrtheCast’s sensor system is one of the most diverse in the Earth Observation business, and with that brings a host of benefits, including heightened analysis for precision agriculture.

How it’s done…

The entire UrtheCast sensor system provides high-quality imagery, like that captured from Deimos-1 and Theia, composed of rich multispectral data with uncompromisingly high radiometric and geometric quality.

– With frequent coverage of continent-wide areas or the monitoring of a single field, UrtheCast can design the perfect imagery solutions for many applications, thanks to our sensor system variety.

– The system can provide frequent revisits over AOIs, broad coverage (from our three sensors and nine other sensors in the PanGeo Alliance) and, as is expected, daily global revisit in the future with UrtheDaily.

– Data via API using the UrthePlatform or via rapid FTP delivery from our Customer Experience team.

– High-quality data at flexible and competitive pricing structures brings higher value.

– A team with over a decade of experience and unique expertise in supporting agriculture applications with multi-satellite imagery services, while Deimos-1 and UrtheDaily are designed, or being designed, specifically for Precision Agriculture.

Classifying every crop type across the U.S.
The Deimos-1 satellite is a workhorse in the agricultural monitoring world. Since 2011, Deimos-1 has been on an agricultural mission for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has used Deimos-1 (and its twin UK-DMC2) as its main satellite imagery source to monitor and classify more than 100 crop types every day across the U.S.

As a part of the program, the USDA is provided with complete coverage of the contiguous U.S. every 15 days during the growing season (April to October), more than 90% cloud-free and with daily acquisitions. Every day, for six months out of each year, more than 1-million km2 of cloud-free data is delivered and orthorectified with <1 pixel GSD accuracy, which allows for high-quality multi-temporal analyses. Most of this data is delivered in less than 24 hours from acquisition.

What’s more, as of April 2016, that Deimos-1 data of the entire contiguous U.S. is being made available throughout the growing season on our highly-accessible, cloud-based UrthePlatform; another step towards the democratization of Earth Observation data.

That’s done with…

– Information-rich imagery, at 20-m pixel size and 3 spectral bands (R, G, NIR)
– Frequent coverage of large areas every 2-3 days, ideal for cloud-free data
– Precision measurements, and cross-calibration with NASA’s Landsat satellites
– Fast data delivery within 24 hours of collection, via FTP or in the UrthePlatform
– Affordable and flexible options for custom solutions

Precision Irrigation:

Water savings and huge crop yeilds

For four years, Deimos-1 has been providing a high-frequency monitoring service in selected crop fields throughout the U.S. In cooperation with UK-DMC2, Deimos-1 is relied upon to deliver one image every two days, less than 24 hours following acquisition — complete with dedicated processing and quality control. All data is orthorectified with <1 pixel GSD accuracy, allowing for high-quality multi-temporal analyses.

This frequency of fresh imagery allows for the management of crop field irrigation with unprecedented precision. The status of every 20×20-m area is assessed every two days and irrigation can be commanded with incredible precision, resulting in huge water savings and a large increase in crop yields. This near-daily monitoring allows for the early detection of crop illnesses, enabling the farmer to take quick action to minimize crop damage.

Precision agriculture across the entire planet

By supplementing weather information with daily updated imagery, leading solution providers leverage Deimos-1 imagery to analyze crop conditions throughout the world. Farmers across the world use this analysis to make better decisions about supply conditions and risks.

Using dedicated processing and quality control, all Deimos data is orthorectified with <1 pixel GSD accuracy, allowing for high-quality multi-temporal analyses. Because timeliness and accessibility are key, all data is delivered in less than 24 hours following acquisition.
Supporting crop risk insurance, globally

Deimos-1 imagery is used worldwide to determine crop and vegetation conditions, anticipate crop loss, and assess crop damage insurance claims. The full compatibility of Deimos-1 data with historical Landsat data allows for the comparison of past and current vegetation conditions.

Fast and easily accessible 5-m data

From aboard the International Space Station, Theia captures strips of imagery at a pixel size of 5 meters. This four-band multispectral imagery (B, G, R, NIR) has a swath of approximately 50 km and continuously flows into the UrthePlatform soon after acquisition, making it particularly accessible.


The next-generation system, perfect for precision ag

UrtheDaily is a planned eight-satellite constellation, which is being designed to acquire very high-quality multispectral imagery, at 5-m resolution, of the entire Earth’s landmass (excluding Antarctica) every day at 10:30 am local time. That’s 140 million km2 of multispectral imagery every 24 hours.

The system’s design is being optimized for agricultural and change-detection applications — for planned delivery of data with high radiometric and geometric quality that enables geoanalytics capabilities that the agriculture industry has yet to see.

With an eye toward speed, these new daily datasets are expected to be delivered via the UrthePlatform within 12 hours following acquisition.

Working in partnership with OptiSAR™

Also being planned, and working in sync with UrtheDaily, is what’s expected to be the world’s first fully-integrated constellation of Optical and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites.
OptiSAR, which UrtheCast is currently developing, aims to provide the ability to image cloud-free on any given day or night, bringing additional value to the agricultural community.


– A Constellation of 16 satellites: 8 Optical and 8 SAR
– L and X SAR bands
– Flying in tandem pairs in two different orbit planes
– Ability to image day and night in all weather conditions
– Very high revisit rates at mid-latitudes

Heightened analysis of infestations, diseases, and floods

When anomalies are detected by Deimos-1, Deimos-2 can provide high-res imagery for closer analysis. With a higher spatial resolution, Deimos-2 imagery is used to precisely outline the affected area(s) and accurately determine the spatial variability.

Deimos-2 also contributes to the surveillance and monitoring of the implementation of the CAP (Common Agriculture Policy, in the European Union), by monitoring the conservation of natural pasture, fallow land, field margins, hedges, trees, and buffer strips, etc.

Deimos-2 is a very high-resolution Earth Observation satellite capable of providing 75-cm pan-sharpened, 1-m pan and 4-m multispectral images with a 12-km-wide swath. Not only is Deimos-2 imagery a powerful data source, it is also an affordable one.

Tasks that can be achieved with Deimos-2 data include defining management zones, planning soil samples, defining maps for variable rate of seeding and fertilizer, prescriptions for variable rates: fertilizer and plant protection products (pesticides, herbicides, etc.), supporting irrigation management and watering systems.

The PanGeo Alliance: for even more variety

With eight members and a growing fleet of Earth Observation sensors, the PanGeo Alliance provides access to complementary imagery and tasking opportunities for ongoing or special projects.

The PanGeo fleet includes 13 operational Earth Observation imaging sensors providing multispectral imagery in a wide range of resolutions (from 20 m to 75 cm per pixel). This unique fleet assures a daily global imaging capability with multiple revisits per day over any target. As members of the PanGeo Alliance, UrtheCast and Deimos Imaging will work with customers to provide custom and complementary data services to fulfill project requirements.