NASA or National Aeronautics and Space Administration established in 1958, is an independent agency of the U.S federal government responsible for civilian space program as well as aeronautics and space research.  Now you may think what is the role of a space organization in agriculture? Wait, let me help you before you exhaust your brain cells in the process.

Food is a basic necessity and it is at the heart of every human culture and our sense of home. It also represents one of our most important connections to Earth. Crops and animal products, whether gathered from the ocean or the land, rose on farms big and small, across vast fields or in our backyards and urban communities, draw on sunlight, water and soil to grow and thrive.

Producing food has always been challenging, and in the 21st century, human-caused climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, the frequency of extreme events and changing precipitation patterns. This is increasing the risk of food supply disruptions by shifting growing and pastoral zones, reducing water access and food yield—all of which contributes to the changing landscape of our food and water supply. In addition, more than 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger worldwide. By 2050, the global population is estimated to grow to 10 billion people. As the population—and the demand for food—continue to expand, we need innovative ways to feed the world.

Now this is where NASA Earth Science data kicks in.


In the modern era, collection and observation of data has become an integral part of the food farming process and is being carried by space and aircraft, combined with high-end computer modelling. After which, NASA scientists work with partner agencies, organizations, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and decision makers to share their understanding and findings of the relationship between the Earth system and the environments that provide us food. Working with local communities and decision makers to determine their needs and how they can best use Earth observation data, NASA supports those who address issues like water management for irrigation, crop-type identification and land use, coastal and lake water quality monitoring, drought preparedness, and famine early warnings.


NASA over a period of time has launched various tools and techniques that have indirect and direct effect and implications on agriculture. Crop-CASMA a tool that was launched by NASA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and George Mason University recently shows 1-kilometer [247 acres] resolution soil moisture and vegetation conditions for the United States. With Crop-CASMA, instead of relying on soil moisture reports for large regions, farmers can see differences in moisture between much smaller areas – about the size of a couple of golf courses or half of a section. The USDA also uses Crop-CASMA to power their monthly Crop Progress Reports, which update farmers on their state’s soil moisture, crop health and growing progress.

Source- NASA

Also programs like SMAP, MODIS, ECOSTRESS, GPM, and GRACE-FO have been in action and have tracked and compiled various information like earth surface change, soil moisture, crop health, rainfall, groundwater etc. In partnership with NASA Harvest, NASA’s Food Security and Agriculture Program within the Earth Sciences Division, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and other national and international organizations, GEOGLAM, or the Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative, tracks and reports on crop conditions around the world. USDA FAS is also one of the main users of a SMAP-based soil moisture product developed NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre to drive their crop forecasting system.

These programs are in the public domain and are free and publicly accessible to everyone around the world. Moreover, the integrations of these programs can provide farmers a complete solution from sowing the seed to sending it to the market.


Source- ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organization which was established in the year 1969, is relatively a new organization and for decades has been under-funded. But yet the Indian space program has been able to cope up with NASA and also has launched various programmes and tools like BHUVAN etc. that are aimed to improve crop production and help farmers in various other processes. However, there are very few data, tools and techniques that have public access that have restricted the growth of private participation in the same. But that it is soon going to change as Indian government has decided to open its technologies to public domain and invite widespread participation in the development of the same.


The modern age agriculture is hugely dependent upon the space programs and the information and tools that are available to solve daily issues of farming. The future of agriculture is believed to be autonomous and digital, which will again directly or indirectly depend on the technological implements by the respective space agencies. Hence, it is important to understand the importance of space agencies and their role in improving the agricultural scenario in general. More specific programs for agriculture must be introduced and the availability of the same in the public domain must be ensured. The future relation between space and agriculture looks promising and however physically they might be distant but somehow are very closely associated.

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