Monitoring the crop evolution using different true color satellite imageries

Agriculture is facing many challenges known for centuries. The climate is changing, the weather is capricious, water can become scarce, soils undergo increasing pressures, prices of the fertilizers can climb, culture prices can drop dramatically. Observing their field regularly and taking the right decisions at the right moments are essential for farmers to keep a maximum productivity.

Modern technologies make it now possible to monitor our crop fields more accurately. The Copernicus Sentinel satellite programme produces a satellite view of every point in the Europe every 5 days with a 10 meter resolution. It is hence possible to observe crops from space and to spot anomalies across larger fields more easily.

In this practical example here, we followed the last few months of the crops near Liege (Belgium) between the 01/05/2016 and the 25/09/2016. We see the fields becoming progressively greener throughout the season. The first harvests do occur between the 06/07 and the 07/10. In Belgium, dry hay and bere are opening the ball for the harvest season in June and the beginning of July. On the 16/08 scene, lots of fields became bare. The biggest harvest month is indeed in July, here with the harvest of rapeseed, wheat, common wheat, linen, peas, sugar beets. The month of September is characteristic of the corn harvests. The green fields after the end of september can be maize, which are harvested in Octobre.

Crop evolution near Liege (Belgium) in 2016

Crop evolution near Liege (Belgium) in 2016

This true color observation example shows just a fraction of what is possible to get as information with Sentinel-2 data. The crops can be observed from space and their types can be estimated using agricultural harvest calendars. In true color tones, it is difficult to differentiate between the various green tones. Other indicators are needed here, and this is a topic for another blog article.


Quadratic is currently studying problems encountered in the agro-industrial sector and develops for its partners real-time monitoring tools and decision support tools, intended to help them manage their logistics. Beside searching ways to reduce costs, the company also helps to monitor crop fields using the products of the ESA and European Union’s Copernicus (Sentinel) programme. Quadratic is member of the Copernicus World Alliance, which aims the development of synergies between organizations active in the Copernicus programme.

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