I am working on a project developing an application for livestock farmers where they can monitor their feed using satellite data.

The main aim is to calculate the biomass of a field of grass. The spectral resolution can be 10m but we are also considering better resolutions. The temporal resolution should be high enough to account for cloud cover in the UK. Where do you suggest starting?

The project is still in proposal stage so I need to consider all potential budgets. We would ideally like to use only satellite data for commercial reasons.

I am new to satellite imaging and GIS so a bit of extra explanation might be necessary!

  • Biomass can be estimated with the relation between NDVI / ETc accumulated / WUE with great results... But is necessary to use satellite images of 50cm resolution? Seems to be too high for grasslands
    – aldo_tapia
    Jul 25, 2018 at 13:01
  • As per the Tour there should be only one question asked per question.
    – PolyGeo
    Jul 25, 2018 at 20:42
  • 50cm was an optimistic number, farmers sometimes have different grasses growing on a field so the resolution has to be high enough to distinguish them. That way we could get a more accurate calculation of biomass. Jul 29, 2018 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


I don't think this is the answer you're looking for but with the specifications you describe, unless there is a subscription through which the farmers need to finance imagery purchase, it would probably be cheaper to buy mapping drones equipped with sensors like a rededge-m.

I have no knowledge of new satellite taskings for 0.5m resolution multispectral (like Pleiades 1A/B) under 2000-2500$, so buying a few cameras becomes actually more cost-effective. Consider also that there is no way to guarantee a certain area won't be covered by clouds. One farmer having his weekly service skipped would not be a happy customer. With drones, you entirely discard that problem and the only true issue becomes reflectance calibration.

Furthermore, if you compare the Rededge-M and Pleiades sensors, you get better resolution and an additional red edge band. Agriculture is probably the field where multispectral drone mapping is the most relevant and cost-effective. A farmer could even purchase his own drone and camera and operate it himself. The processing and NDVI generation then becomes trivial if done through an app.

  • Thank-you Gabriel for your answer. We are considering drone usage but we would prefer satellite data as it makes the application marketable to a wider audience. Would it be possible to make a trade off between image cost and spectral resolution to find something affordable for a farmer? Jul 30, 2018 at 10:36

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