A method of applying remote sensing (RS) and information- management technology to help large farms produce at maximum efficiency is undergoing development. The novelty of the method does not lie in the concept of "precision agriculture," which involves variation of seeding, of application of chemicals, and of irrigation according to the spatially and temporally local variations in the growth stages and health of crops and in the chemical and physical conditions of soils. The novelty also does not lie in the use of RS data registered with other data in a geographic information system (GIS) to guide the use of precise agricultural techniques. Instead, the novelty lies in a systematic approach to overcoming obstacles that, heretofore, have impeded the timely distribution of reliable, relevant, and sufficient GIS data to support day-to-day, acre-to-acre decisions concerning the application of precise agricultural techniques to increase production and decrease cost.

The development and promotion of the method are inspired in part by a vision of equipping farm machinery to accept GIS (including RS) data and using the data for automated or semiautomated implementation of precise agricultural techniques. Primary examples of relevant GIS data include information on plant stress, soil moisture, and effects of applied chemicals, all derived by automated computational analysis of measurements taken by one or more airborne spectroradiometers.

Proper management and timeliness of the large amount of GIS information are of paramount concern in agriculture. Information on stresses and changes in crops is especially perishable and important to farmers. The need for timeliness and management of information is satisfied by use of computing hardware and software capable of (1) rapid geo-rectification and other processing of RS data, (2) packaging the output data in the form of GIS plots, and (3) making the data available to farmers and other subscribers by Internet password access. It is a goal of this development program to make RS data available no later than the data after an aerial survey. In addition, data from prior surveys are kept in the data base. Farmers can, for example, use current and prior data to analyze changes.

This work was done by John E. Williams of Global Positioning Solutions, Inc., and Jimmie A. Ramsay of DataStar, Inc. for Stennis Space Center.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Global Positioning Solutions, Inc.

P.O. Box 89

Inverness, MS 38753

Refer to SSC-00150, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the December, 2003 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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