NASA Harvest News
The joint NASA and USGS Landsat program has revolutionized agricultural monitoring over the past several decades, advancing our capability to analyze crop conditions throughout the growing season, estimate crop yields, and develop new food security response mechanisms. Featured in NASA Earth Observatory's Notes from the Field blog, NASA Harvest reflects on this history and describes how the latest generation of the program, Landsat 9 (launched on September 27th, 2021) continues this nearly 50 year legacy.

Since the first Landsat satellite launched in 1972, agricultural monitoring has been a key application of the program. With advances in computing capabilities increasing exponentially over the last several decades, the EO data provided by Landsat continues to find new and creative applications. In our article, we discuss some of the projects where our partners have utilized Landsat data, including assessments of deforestation and cropland expansion in South America, tracking 20 years of crop yields in the U.S. Midwest, and informing water management strategies.
A new study led by NASA Harvest partners at the University of Maryland (UMD) Global Land Analysis and Discovery (GLAD) research group details the exponential expansion of soybean planting in South America since the turn of the century. The study found that the area cultivated with soybean doubled between 2000 and 2019, with the most rapid expansion happening in the Brazilian Amazon where soybean cultivation increased tenfold during the same time period.
NASA Harvest's AI/ML team has uploaded scripts used for two recent projects to Google Earth Engine's Community Datasets. Both projects focus on EO-based cropland mapping with sparse ground data, one of which was a 10-day mapping of cropland within the country of Togo for rapid humanitarian response. Included with both scripts are the associated published study and original data outputs.
NASA Harvest's Dr. Ritvik Sahajpal and Dr. Catherine Nakalembe held a training workshop on crop yield forecast modeling this month. Workshop participants learned how EO data is created, how to input it into crop yield models, and how to analyze the model outputs and perform accuracy assessment. The three-day workshop was hosted in partnership with the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) the NASA SERVIR Eastern and Southern Africa Hub.
Meet Edrick Bwambale, a partner on Dr. Catherine Nakalembe's Lacuna Fund project "Helmets Labeling Crops." Edrick works as an extension officer in the Mubuku irrigation scheme in southwest Uganda. He joins us to talk about his work with the Helmets project, the importance of irrigation in Ugandan agriculture, and how farmers can join together to improve production and increase local incomes.
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Upcoming Events
FOSS4G brings together developers, users, decision-makers and observers from a broad spectrum of organizations and fields of operation. Join NASA Harvest's John Keniston on Oct 1 for a session on "GLAM: Open EO for Agricultural Monitoring and Food Security." GLAM is an open source web application providing Earth observation capabilities to address food and agricultural security across the globe, enabling near-real-time monitoring of global croplands and allowing users to track crop conditions as growing seasons evolve.
The 2021 NASA's Western Water Applications Office and Water Resources Program meetings will held in October this year. Both meetings will have presentations from partners and funded projects, as well as opportunities to discuss ongoing and emerging challenges. NASA Harvest's John Bolten and Inbal Becker-Reshef will be leading a discussion and delivering kickoff remarks respectively. The WWAO meeting is Oct 5 and the Water Resources Program meeting is spread across Oct 6-8. Both meetings are virtual and free to attend.
This five-part, intermediate webinar series will focus on the use of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) from Sentinel-1 and/or optical imagery from Sentinel-2 to map crop types and assess their biophysical characteristics. The webinar will include a SAR and optical refresher along with pre-processing and analysis of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 data using the Sentinel Application Platform and Python code written in JupyterLab. The webinar will also cover an operational roadmap for mapping crop type, including best practices for collecting field data to train and validate models for classifying crops on a national level. The final session of this series will cover crop biophysical variable retrievals using optical data.
Planet Explore 2021 is set to be held virtually this year and will be free for all attendees! The live event will include talks from several keynote speakers including NASA Harvest Africa Program Lead Dr. Catherine Nakalembe. Drs. Inbal Becker-Reshef and Hannah Kerner will also present on various NASA Harvest activities throughout the event. There will be many opportunities to learn from end users and discussions on leveraging satellite imagery and insights. Goals of the annual conference are to bring together industry thought leaders, customers, partners, end users, and developers for two days of learning and conversation.