Research Matters

Research Matters

Crop Monitoring

Researchers today use satellites to monitor crops across Kansas and the country. From the University of Kansas, this is Research Matters. I'm Brendan Lynch.

Aired September 14, 2008

2 minutes (2.7 MB) | Download mp3


Jude Kastens grew up on the High Plains of Kansas tending cattle and crops on his family's farm in Rawlins County. Today, Kastens draws on his rural upbringing as a research assistant professor with the Kansas Applied Remote Sensing program at KU.

Jude Kastens: "Farmers have to rely on a lot of information. Producers can use the information we provide to give them a better feel for what the overall crop will be like, and hopefully that will help them to make better marketing decisions."

Kastens and colleagues analyze images from satellites and publish a map series called the GreenReport that measures crop conditions and growth.

Jude Kastens: "The GreenReport is a real-time satellite image of photosynthetically active vegetation, or 'greenness,' from the lower 48 states. It shows you the condition of the vegetation at a particular point in time. The satellite image is updated on weekly basis, and we have a 19-year history for this database, so we can make meaningful comparisons to determine how the vegetation is doing right now, compared to previous years."

The KU researchers also produce yield forecasts for eight crops throughout the nation, often outperforming forecasts of the Department of Agriculture. Although he spends more time today performing cutting-edge research, Kastens hasn't strayed from his roots in farm country.

Jude Kastens: "I go back to help out with wheat harvest whenever I can, which fortunately is most years. Of course that depends on if we have a crop or not, which doesn't always happen out there. But we've been real fortunate these past few years. I'm not a farmer at heart. I don't want to go back and farm myself. But I'm very exited that I have the opportunity to work in agriculture still and do this type of crop yield forecasting."

For more on the Green Report, log on to Research Matters dot K-U dot E-D-U. For the university of Kansas, I'm Brendan Lynch.

Tell Me More

KU researcher predicts farm productivity across Kansas and the nation

KU professor Jude Kastens keeps an eye on crops across Kansas and the entire country using satellite imagery. The information he and his colleagues collect helps them to predict harvest yields for multiple crops throughout the United States. Read the full story