Last fall, I wrote a jazzed up article about the potential of NDVI imagery in anticipation of UFC launching its own NDVI pilot program. I am even more jazzed today to say that that program has arrived. Right now, as we speak, our FSA’s are out trying to enroll growers into the Crop Health Monitor program powered by Winfield’s R7 platform, this is a lower resolution daily set of NDVI imagery. In addition to that we also have options for higher resolution imagery sets off multiple platforms to best fit your operation.
Not only has it arrived, but I have in my hands at this very moment, NDVI imagery of York County, Nebraska. Friends, I am looking at it as I write.
If you’re not as excited about this as I am, then let me explain: NDVI imagery not only has the power to “prove” to us that what we do works (or not), but also to deliver that proof to us soon enough to allow us to make corrections if necessary. It vastly improves our agility as I talked about in last week’s article and has the potential to help us maximize our yield as it illuminates for us the impact of our efforts.
The imagery that I have now should reveal some interesting information on some of those efforts. It includes both a field treated with fungicide just a few days before our last storms and a field untreated. It includes fields with differing degrees of hail damage. In short order, I’ll get another round of NDVI imagery of the same fields and—here’s the cool thing—we’ll see what has changed and how.
That will give us some answers to some questions like, “Is the fungicide actually enhancing plant growth?” and “How are the plants rebounding from their hail damage?”
You might be thinking that yield answers these questions for us, and that’s true. You can apply fungicide on Field A and not on Field B and come harvest, their yield numbers will reveal to you whether the fungicide was worth it or not. But you have to wait until harvest for that answer. NDVI imagery will give you that same answer but next week rather than in October.
That timeliness is the key. Consider N, for example. You put some down and chalk up another job well done. But was it enough? Did it do what you hoped it would? An NDVI image of your field before the application of N and afterward will give you the yes or no you need to follow up that N application in the best fashion. Perhaps the imagery will reveal a field not as green as you’d like, and you’ll know that additional N is necessary to reach your yield goals. Perhaps the imagery will reveal adequate effectiveness, and you can rest assured that all is well and keep some moola in your pocket.
The true advantage of using and understanding all levels and resolutions of NDVI imagery is having knowledge of the effects of a situation early enough that we can make some management decisions to really have a positive impact on your bottom line. This technology is ever evolving, and we, as agronomy professionals, have to get a detailed understanding of it as soon as we can. That, my friends, is why we are bringing these pilots to you.