Using satellite data and the power of supercomputers, scientists at the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, can now distinguish between corn and soybean crops in the field. Until now, the number of corn and bean acreage was made public four to six months after harvest by the USDA. I’m told the new technique will be able to provide with 95% accuracy, the number of both corn and bean acres by the end of July. Meaning policymakers will no longer be operating with stale data. Keep in mind, with timely data, better decisions can now be made regarding, crop insurance, land rentals, supply chain logistics, commodity markets and more. Kaiyu Guan, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois says the scientific value is every bit as important as the practical value. From what I understand, Guan and his team decided to try something different than using the near-infrared part of the spectrum like others have always done. And in the process discovered a short-wave spectral band capable of identifying the difference between corn and beans. It turns out corn and soybean have predictably different leaf water status by July most years. And for the last 15 years, the team has been using data from three Landsat satellites, which has consistently picked up on this leaf water signal. After collecting the tens of terabytes of data, a supercomputer was required in order to process it all. I’m told machine learning, using a deep neural network to analyze the data is something new to agriculture but Guan believes the potential for innovation in this area is huge moving forward. We’ve been saying for a while that change is happening faster than you think and adding supercomputers to agricultural solutions is just one example. Make sure you consider the implications of innovation on your operation. I suspect new technology and data processing will continue to occur at light speed and many benefits await those ready to use it. Be sure to have a plan that incorporates change and be ready to execute! (Source: Science Daily)

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