The Perspectives of Remote Sensing Application Products for Increase of the Efficiency in Agriculture, İmpact Azerbaijan

Elman Alaskarov – Senior Remote Sensing Specialist Azercosmos

Agriculture is one of the important industries in economy of Azerbaijan. Nowadays the main objectives of the agro-industrial policy of the government are to make this sector highly efficient and profitable, as well as to focus on exporting local agricultural products.With privatization of lands, emergence of a large number of landowners and availability of agricultural manufactures of different ownership forms, the management of the agricultural products’ production is getting more difficult. Since there are many cases, when land areas are misused or are not used at all, there is a need to take drastic measures. These will contribute to solution of this problem, which is not possible without establishing the governmental management system of land resources, based on the usage of results of land monitoring. Land monitoring is a system that tracks the state of land foundation for detecting the early changes, their evaluation, forecast, prevention and elimination of the results of negative processes.

In recent years, the wide range of governmental and commercial organizations demonstrated interest in the usage of remote sensing capabilities for acquiring information, which is necessary to make timely and reasonable decisions in the field of agriculture. The global experience for more than 25 years confirms that space imagery provides opportunities not only for improvement of the agricultural statistics collection, increase of the accuracy, uniformity, objectivity and the frequency of observations, but also helps to develop the methods of operational control of seeding conditions and crop yield forecasting significantly. Governmental, as well as information-marketing services use remote sensing of agricultural areas in many countries (Canada, USA, EU countries, India, Japan, China, etc.). For example, MARS System (Monitoring of Agriculture with Remote Sensing) providing services to the European Union, allows defining the seeding area and crop productivity of agricultural vegetation, starting from the country level and up to the individual farms. The results of the analysis are used for optimization of agricultural production management, as well as for control of production volume within the governmental programs supporting the agricultural manufactures. The similar system is applied by the Department of Agriculture of the USA.Modern remote sensing images obtained with the imaging equipment installed on various space vehicles, have the technical characteristics, which allow solving the wide range of tasks in the agricultural production, from borders mapping of the fields to the analysis of land usage level and the conditions of crop productivity on the large areas. This is possible due to the large coverage of satellite imageries, the presence of spectral channel in the diapason relevant to the spectral characteristics of plant cover and allowing producing the automated calculation of plant indexes, which reflects the current conditions of agricultural areas. The usage of products of different times makes it possible to track the dynamics of changes in plant cover and agro technical works, to identify the areas affected by natural disasters, as well as to solve many other problems.It is obvious that, not only manufactures and leaseholders of agricultural areas, but also the regional administrative offices and governmental bodies are interested in the methods of monitoring of agricultural areas. Monitoring of agricultural areas includes the systematic observation of the condition and the usage of crop rotation areas, the parameters of soil fertility, the changes of plant cover in the plowed fields, fallow lands, hayfields, pastures, etc.The next stage is the introduction about the precision agriculture. We may give the following definition of precision agriculture without going into deep scientific terminology: it is the management of crops’ productivity, with consideration of the local features of each field. In other words, this is the optimal management of plant production on each square meter in order to get maximum profit by saving the economic and natural resources. Modern agricultural equipment controlled with an on-board computer, devices for precise point positioning, technical system detecting the landscapes’ heterogeneity, yield accounting automatic systems, precise sensing controlled systems, and computer programs for displaying and analyzing of data are required changes in plant cover and agro technical works, to identify the areas affected by natural disasters, as well as to solve many other problems.It is obvious that, not only manufactures and leaseholders of agricultural areas, but also the regional administrative offices and governmental bodies are interested in the methods of monitoring of agricultural areas. Monitoring of agricultural areas includes the systematic observation of the condition and the usage of crop rotation areas, the parameters of soil fertility, the changes of plant cover in the plowed fields, fallow lands, hayfields, pastures, etc. The next stage is the introduction about the precision agriculture. We may give the following definition of precision agriculture without going into deep scientific terminology: it is the management of crops’ productivity, with consideration of the local features of each field. In other words, this is the optimal management of plant production on each square meter in order to get maximum profit by saving the economic and natural resources. Modern agricultural equipment controlled with an on-board computer, devices for precise point positioning, technical system detecting the landscapes’ heterogeneity, yield accounting automatic systems, precise sensing controlled systems, and computer programs for displaying and analyzing of data are required.

Electronic maps of the fields are prepared based on the satellite images. The productivity of different areas is analyzed according to the results of harvest. The chemical composition of soil is studied by using special technologies. According to the results of these researches, the scientists make recommendations to farmers. It is important that they give detailed recommendations to manufacturers on saving, which they call as precise and optimal application of fertilizer in terms of environmental safety. So, the differences between remote sensing and ground-based researches are following: speed, accuracy and the ability to analyze what is happening on the ground quickly. However, the ground-based researches still play an important role. Together with space monitoring, they allow to correlate the methods of crop recognition on the agricultural fields and their heterogeneity. It is possible to understand agro-technical condition of fields by using information about the changes of spectral brightness of plants during the vegetation period and index NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), while decoding.

Precision agriculture is introduced with the help of gradual mastering of qualitatively new agro-technologies based on highly effective and environmentally safe technical and agrochemical means.Constant monitoring on plant conditions plays primary role in precision agriculture. Timely detection and localization of areas with spoiled vegetation in the fields, which can be caused by various factors, such as damage of plants by pests, preponderance of perennial weeds, etc., is an important component of precision agriculture.

For Azerbaijan, having own space segment, with the imaging devices that meet the requirements listed above, provides opportunity to receive information promptly, excluding the dependence on foreign data providers with value added prices.