Science Service System

Summary of Proposal LAN0098

TitlePasture monitoring using TeraSAR-X
Investigator Pairman, David - Landcare Research, Rural Land Use
Team Members
Dr McNeill, Stephen - Landcare Research, Rural Land Use
Dr North, Heather - Landcare Research, Rural Land Use
Ms Belliss, Stella - Landcare Research, Rural Land Use
Dr Dynes, Robyn - AgResearch Ltd, AgResearch
Dr Litherland, Annette - AgResearch Ltd, Farming Systems
Dr. Dalley, Dawn - Dexcel LTD., C/- SIDDC

Close monitoring of pasture cover, coupled with climate and weather information for prediction of pasture growth, can provide significant improvements in the efficiency of pasture utilisation by cows, sheep and cattle and also other pasture-based agricultural applications. The CSIRO (Australia) has developed a “Pastures from Space” application for annual pastures of Western Australia, based on MODIS which monitors and predicts pasture growth on a two-weekly basis. Currently the technology is being trialled in Waikato, New Zealand, using SPOT-4 and -5 data.

In New Zealand, persistent cloud cover is very likely to limit optical remote sensing for this application. Our proposal aims to gain an understanding of whether SAR data is sensitive to pasture biomass, the impact of co-factors such as moisture, and the practical implications of using SAR for this purpose.

If successful, TerraSAR-X data could find a market supplementing, or complementing, optical imagery, especially in cloudy regions or in seasons when optical imagery can not be reliably obtained.

To test this application, we wish to analyse 18 datasets over a 12-month period, comparing the TerraSAR-X-derived biomass with ground-based sampling. Promising results would be followed up by a second year of analysis covering two different test sites to:

  • Check the repeatability of the method
  • See if the method transfers to a different environment (drier, different soils)
    • The deliverables would be:

      • A tested methodology
      • Analysis results shared between the co-investigators, DLR, and any production organisation in New Zealand that had been prepared to share their ground-based measurements with us for the purposes of this comparison
      • Results reporting at any workshops and conferences as designated by DLR
      • Publication in a recognised journal.

      Landcare Research will be bidding for funding for this project, if accepted by the satellite operators, as part of their portfolio of work for the next 6 year time interval – 2006-2012.

      In addition, there are a variety of funding opportunities for further development of this project. AgResearch is already a member of the NZ industry partnership evaluating a range of remote sensing opportunities in NZ, including “Pastures from Space”. There are opportunities for this project to work with this existing industry initiative.

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