Identifying Nitrogen Deficiency With Satellite Imaging

Satellite imaging can help identify nutritional deficiencies, disease and pests in your crop before you physically go out and scout your fields. We recently caught up with Garrett Watson, Precision Ag Manager, Digital Adoption with Echelon at Nutrien Ag Solutions to dig deeper into why aerial imaging can help a grower identify deficiencies in their crops.

So, how does it work, anyway? Watson explains that to identify nutritional deficiencies like nitrogen in a crop, satellite imagery like that in the Echelon platform can help monitor crop health and progression through the growing season. “With images every three to five days updating us on relative crop health, we can tailor our field scouting to areas of interest and concern,” says Watson.

You shouldn’t rely solely on satellite imagery to identify deficiencies—pairing satellite imaging of your fields with other nutrient deficiency identifiers like soil and tissue sampling is essential to get the best understanding of what’s going on in your crop. “The first thing you should pair satellite imagery with is boots on the ground – an agronomist or crop scout to go and investigate. Second, if you’re in the growing season, you should take a tissue test to help determine nutrient deficiencies and how severe they are, then work with your advisors to determine the best and most economical decision to make for that field,” explains Watson.

We asked Watson to detail why growers can benefit from using satellite imaging and how they should take action after using this technology—see his answers below:

How can satellite imaging benefit a grower’s ROI?

“Satellite imagery is a very cost-effective way to monitor crop health consistently through the growing season, even in areas that may not be scouted regularly. It’s an extra set of objective eyes across every acre of the farm, to help point out problems before you can see them with the naked eye or come across them scouting.”

How do growers benefit from using precision technologies like satellite imaging?

“Using satellite imaging, we can not only monitor crops for stress, but we can then use the imagery to create a variable rate nutrient prescription and match our rate of nutrient to actual crop demand, in-season, for every spot in the field.  Growers benefit from applying the right product, at the right time, now at the right rate for each segment of the field.”

What steps should growers take after seeing their field data?

“After seeing field data, growers should go through it with their agronomist or advisor to understand the interpretation, then talk through the logistics, economics, and environmental impacts of their options – applying nutrients, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, or waiting for the appropriate threshold to take action.”

Using precision technologies like Echelon can help you determine where nutrients are most needed so you can make a crop nutrition plan accordingly. Once you have determined your nutrient needs, talk to your local rep to discuss the next steps in your management plan. ESN Smart Nitrogen can help provide your crop the right amount of nitrogen at the right time, all throughout the season.

Questions? Ask away!  Submit your questions here, or tag us on Twitter @smartnitrogen.

For more information on Echelon, backed by Nutrien Ag Solutions, click here.