Observation of Crop Development

For the documentation and optimisation of the plant production it can be important to conduct a continuous monitoring of the crop development over the whole vegetation period. Often it is not possible, though, to cover big areas with many fields with in-field measurements to check the canopy development. Through the usage of satellite data which are available several times per year the phenological development can be observed continuously over the whole vegetation period for all fields.

  • Which field is maturing early?
  • Are there fields where crop growth develops negatively?
  • When does ripening of the canopy start?
  • What yield is to be expected?

Such a crop monitoring can be helpful e.g. for sugar beet factories to plan and estimate their campaigns.

Fig. 1: Satellite images with sugar beet fields and their visible phenological development over the growth period

Fig. 2: Diagram of the development of the biomass (Green Biomass Index) using the example of three sugar beet fields over one growth period

Monitoring of individual fields is done via a derivation of Canopy Parameters, like e.g.

  • Development of leaf area index
  • Development of biomass
  • Fraction of brown leaves/maturity level
  • Heterogeneity of the canopy within one field
  • Classification of outliers in comparison to other fields

If the monitoring spans several years it gives information about differences in crop development according to the current nutrient and water status. Thus, management measures can be taken according to the current conditions.

Fig. 3: Comparison of biomass development in the beginning of June in two consecutive years (wheat on wheat). In the second, dry year, soils with a lower water holding capacity show as areas of lower biomass development already in the beginning of June. This effect is mirrored in the long-term relative biomass potential.

Via the combination of satellite information and daily crop growth modelling, the current biomass can be calculated at any date, making it possible to have information even on cloudy days. Because of their operational availability, the information about the biomass development can be used for management measures like nitrogen fertilization or plant protection.

Fig. 4: Via combination of satellite information and crop growth modelling, information is available at any given date