Water scarcity affects agriculture around the world. This is also the case in Europe. And especially in agriculture, a lot of water is used – and wasted. 70 percent of the fresh water available worldwide is used for agriculture, a lot of water is wasted. Geothermal data from the ISS should now help conserve water in agriculture.
Data from space enables accurate analysis
According to data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), more than half, or about 60 percent to be precise, of the water used in agriculture is lost. Reasons include leaky irrigation systems, inefficient application methods, and plants that use too much water because they were grown in the wrong environment.
Researchers from Baden-Württemberg and Thuringia now want to revolutionize agriculture a bit with geothermal data. To this end, they have developed a telescope with which data can be collected in space about the water needs on earth. A special reflective telescope with a thermal ink infrared camera is used. The data is then processed by a miniature computer. The technology will be built into satellites in the future. The data obtained in this way can help to better estimate water needs and to waste less water.
First tests on the ISS
A prototype of the measuring instrument is currently being tested on the International Space Station. The images produced are sharp and allow for accurate data collection, said a spokeswoman for Freiburg-based company Constellr. The first pilot tests based on this data are planned for this year.
The idea of satellite-assisted observation for arable land analysis is not new. However, the new tool should make it possible to collect more detailed data at shorter intervals. New space company Constellr recently acquired Belgian startup Scan World. The combined expertise in Earth observation should also enable the monitoring of carbon, energy and plant health from space. These are all aspects that play a role in so-called smart farming.
The Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics EMI in Freiburg, from which Constellr originated, is also involved in the project.
In just two years, the company aims to launch four satellites that will collect data. With their help, weather models could also be specified and disaster management support provided. The German Farmers’ Union has also shown interest in technology.