Advances in Agricultural Forecasting Through Interagency Cooperation and Technology Development

Key Investigator: Thomas D. Cheng

Monitoring the condition and productivity of agriculture environments with photography and other imagery from aircraft and spacecraft has been a common interest of federal and state agencies since the 1960's. In the last decade, NASA, through the Ecosystem Science and Technology Branch (ECOSAT), and the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have worked together to improve the quality, efficiency and timeliness of NASS' reporting on agricultural productivity. These improvements have come through the use of remotely sensed data and the latest in digital data processing equipment and software.

The most recent example of cooperation between ECOSAT and NASS is the development of an automated procedure to locate and select the sites visited by NASS enumerators during the annual agricultural census performed by the USDA (Figure 1) . The new procedure required the development of software that would display an image from digital satellite data and overlay the image with information from maps converted to digital format by the U.S. Geological Survey (Figure 2) . It also required that the software be implemented in a workstation environment, i.e. on a computer sufficiently powerful to display and manipulate large amounts of digital data, yet small enough and quiet enough to fit on an office desk and be operated by a single analyst (Figure 3) .

The requirements of the system have been met. The software system has been delivered to USDA. It operates on a workstation and is being tested now on data from Missouri. The new procedure will allow NASS to reduce significantly the number of analysts and the data manipulations required to locate sample sites and to produce annual agricultural estimates.

RESEARCH SITES : Missouri, Michigan
COLLABORATORS: National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

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