Five Ways Satellite Imagery Can Do the Dirty Work for You

Farmers are using satellite imagery from FBN in a number of unexpected ways to help them do the dirty work of in-season and year-round management. Members can access new satellite images every few days from their online account or the FBN App, and images go back 12 months, so you can benchmark progress and see how fields compare, year over year.

We asked five farmers to tell us how they’re using satellite imagery from FBN:

1. Determine if your chemical applications are actually working.

Satellite imagery can help you to confirm that in-season applications are working as you expected. Checking EVI satellite imagery post-application can help reveal a crop response beyond what you can see just by scouting fields. 

“I used the EVI imagery to track a fungicide application that I made on my corn field earlier this season. It is a great way to see if the corn is healthy and determine if the application made a difference or not.”

—Terry Franzen, IA

2. Optimize fertility applications from the palm of your hand.

You don’t want to put down any more nitrogen than you need, and satellite imagery can help you optimize what you put down where by looking at where crops are performing well and where they aren’t. Whether you use a variable rate approach to your applications or not, satellite imagery can help you gain efficiency in the nutrients you apply every time.

“I think that satellite imagery can help us find the places we need to focus more on and the places where we might need to back off a little. As far as fertilizer goes, we know you don't need to put 200 pounds per acre on the whole farm… you can put 200 lbs on the good ground, and 150 on the poorer ground. The stuff that you know isn't going to produce. You can't really see that just with walking fields, so the satellite imagery tells us that story.”

—Jacob Halsey, MI

Watch: Types of Images and How to Access FBN Satellite Imagery (9 min video)

satellite imagery from FBN
3. Check on how your field trials are performing.

Whether you set up strip trials or a split field trial, satellite imagery can help you with ongoing check-ins of your on-farm trials, no matter the crop, variety, application or soil conditions. Because FBN satellite imagery provides a new set of images of your field each week, you can track the progress of each variety and how they are responding throughout the growing season.

For example, take Brian Petty, a farmer in Indiana. Brian applied Stratego® YLD (fungicide) on one of his fields and left a test strip. He then uploaded his precision application file to his FBN account where he could visualize the application in FBN maps! Ten days later, he received our email, letting him know that the satellite had completed another orbit and there were new images of his field online, so he signed in and was able to see a visible difference in plant vigor.

“What has blown us away so far has been the very clear defining lines in crop health that have appeared in an applied area of the image compared to a non-applied area. And these responses have shown up at around 10 days post-application time, showing how quickly the product began to work and what all we could see. Additionally, as the satellite images will continue to come in for the rest of the season, we get to follow this crop response to crop maturity, so it’s not a "one off" event. Another interesting facet is in a couple of fields where we have applied differing products with differing modes of action, and now with the satellite images we get to gauge crop response and how long that response lasts.”

— Brian Petty, IN

See how Brian Petty is using satellite imagery on his farm to test, check and confirm. (7 min read)

4. Monitor your crop’s drought stress.

Farmers can use satellite imagery as an indicator of fields that are experiencing drought stress. But farmers are also using satellite imagery to help them identify and detect any issues with their irrigation.

“One value that FBN is bringing that I appreciate is the EVI maps. I only have to click a button and they are right there. I have used the map on irrigated ground to see if there is streaking in the field where we might have nozzling problems. We are also using it to monitor several different test trials on tillage practices that we are running on our fields”

— Christopher Ringwald, KS

5. Protect your investment with a visual record.

Sometimes, farmers can tell that something is amiss in a field, but they can’t put their finger on exactly what it is. The combination of satellite imagery and maps give you a clear picture of your fields, so you can see if a spray was missed or a possible drift issue is causing you to miss yield. 

“I saved my initial membership cost within the first two months of owning it. And every year I've saved more than I've ever had to put in. This year I actually had a drift issue. I got drifted and they were not going to pay for it. But I had the maps that FBN has on their site, so I had the proof right there. They had to help make it right. And for the size of operation I am, there's no way I could ever afford that kind of technology on my own.”

— Tony Meeder, SD

You don’t have to use a precision ag system to make satellite imagery work for you.

For farmers who are not yet using a precision ag system, you can still put satellite imagery to work in your fields. Any FBN member with marked fields in their account can analyze their field maps. But if they are utilizing a precision system, FBN members can add files from more than 60 systems, and analyze maps directly from their account. No more switching between systems or remembering multiple usernames and passwords.


When you join FBN, you get access to satellite imagery and a wide range of services as soon as your field boundaries have been added.

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