Global Agricultural Monitoring

Project Description
Project Background NASA/UDSA MOU:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to strengthen future collaboration. In support of this collaboration, NASA and the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) jointly funded a new project to assimilate NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data and products into an existing decision support system (DSS) operated by the International Production Assessment Division (IPAD) of FAS. Building on NASA's investment in the MODIS Science Team, the project is implementing a user-friendly system that will allow for the integration and analysis of MODIS data products in IPAD's DSS.

FAS Mission and Tasks:

FAS promotes the security and stability of U.S. food supply, improves foreign market access for U.S. agricultural products, reports on world food security, and advises the U.S. government on international food aid requirements.

FAS bears the primary responsibility for USDA's overseas activities: market development, international trade agreements and negotiations, and the collection and analysis of statistics and market information. It also administers USDA's export credit guarantee and food aid programs, and helps increase income and food availability in developing nations by mobilizing expertise for agriculturally led economic growth.

IPAD's Scope:

The FAS, through IPAD, provides agricultural information for global food security. It produces objective, timely and regular assessments of global agricultural production outlook and the conditions affecting food security. IPAD is responsible for global crop condition assessments and estimates of production and yield of grains, oilseeds, and cotton. IPAD assessments are an integral component of the monthly crop assessments issued by USDA's World Agricultural Outlook Board - a primary source for agricultural information worldwide.

The Application of NASA EOS MODIS Data to FAS Agricultural Assessment and Forecasting:

To meet its objectives, FAS/IPAD uses satellite data and data products to monitor agriculture worldwide and to locate and keep track of natural disasters such as short and long term droughts, floods and persistent snow cover which impair agricultural productivity. FAS is the largest user of satellite imagery in the non-military sector of the U.S. government. For the last 20 years FAS has used a combination of Landsat and NOAA-AVHRR satellite data to monitor crop condition and report on episodic events.

FAS is upgrading and enhancing the satellite component of its IPAD decision support system through an information delivery system for MODIS data and derived products. NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board two platforms of the Earth Observing System (EOS), was designed in part to monitor subtle vegetation responses to stress, vegetation production and land cover with regional-to-global coverage. Hence, integration of MODIS data and derived products into the IPAD FAS DSS provides FAS with better characterization of land surface conditions at the regional scale and enables monitoring of changes in the key agricultural areas of FAS focus regions in a more timely fashion and at a higher resolution than previously possible with NOAA-AVHRR data.

MODIS: An Operational Prototype:

Although MODIS is a NASA experimental mission, the instrument's capabilities will be extended by the launch of the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) in 2008, part of the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), which will become fully operational in 2009. Thus the methods and system developed through this research project can be transitioned into a fully operational domain.

Project Components:

- Delivery and integration of MODIS Rapid Response data into the FAS monitoring system to facilitate improved monitoring of the impact of climate hazards, such as drought, large scale flooding, and snow storms, on agricultural production.

- Development and delivery of a long term database of MODIS composite Vegetation Index (VI) time series including analysis tools and a graphic user interface that provides mosaicking, reprojection capabilities, and easy access to the moderate resolution image archive.

- Establishment of the relationship between MODIS VI data and the long-term archives from the AVHRR and SPOT-VEGETATION used by FAS/IPAD.

- Development of enhanced MODIS cropland products including a crop mask, a crop type map, new band combination products, and a crop stress index.

Project Website:

[Summary provided by the United States Department of Agriculture.]