Remote sensing and geo-referencing in Brazilian coffee plantations

Remote sensing and geo-referencing in Brazilian coffee plantations

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The Brazilian coffee farming, in addition to its great economic and social importance to Brazil, needs more complementary information on its production system, especially regarding its size, distribution and cultivation environment. In this sense, the use of geotechnologies presents itself as the most recommended alternative for gathering data on coffee production by using satellite images, geo-processing techniques and global positioning systems (GPS).

Obtaining the coordinates of control points can be performed in the field, from topographical survey and/or GPS, or through georeferenced satellite images or maps (printed or digital) accurately in the position fixed by INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform). Sensors are used on board satellites and aircrafts to capture information about the Earth”s surface and atmosphere, and thus the signals captured by the sensors are transmitted to the Earth and received at the stations where they are transformed into digital images.

When using GPS a greater care is needed as in topographical survey it can display a small error in meters, able to change the measure, thus modifying the location of a wall of a warehouse, gaining or losing a few meters of fences. Because it is still the most common, we can mention some of the numerous applications of the GPS use in agriculture, namely: topographical surveying, demarcation of land and precision agriculture.

Hence, some companies are introducing other surveying methods a bit different from the usual, as in the case of using UAVs, which can capture high quality images of lands and, in some cases, even survey the land’s topography. UAV’s do not require vast areas, for flying in small areas, and are advantageous, although representing an expensive service if compared with others.

In precision agriculture remote sensing is very important as it allows the analysis of each area independently. This meter by meter analysis considers the specific fertility of each area, allowing a better composting. The benefits of precision agriculture are: Reduction of the problem of agricultural activity risk, reduction of production costs, quick and right decision making, situation control by the use of information, greater crop yields, more free time for the administrator and a crop environment improvement by using less pesticides.

For remote sensing in coffee farming, we have Cafesat, which aims to spatialize coffee plantations and monitoring them in the main producing regions of Brazil. At the time, the mapping is only available for the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo. The Cafesat project began in 2005 with a big challenge, ie, to prove that it is possible to map the Brazilian coffee production in major producing regions of the country through satellite images and make this information available in an online environment.

Source: Café Point