Satellites for Sustainability

As SpaceX and Blue Origin push the boundaries of space exploration, NASA satellite imagery is revolutionizing sustainability efforts back on Earth. A recent analytics report from E. & J. Gallo Winery showed that satellite imagery combined with IBM Watson intelligence reduced water usage by 16% while improving the quality of the grapes grown.

NASA satellite imagery allowed E. & J. Gallo Winery to see extreme variability in grape vine water use and prompted them to design a smarter, more efficient, irrigation system. With the help of IBM Watson, a system was created that could deliver water to specific sections of the vineyard utilizing real-time satellite data, such as weather forecasts.

Although this project has only been implemented on a small scale thus far, a 16% reduction in water usage is no small feat for a company that owns 15 wineries and more than 20,000 acres of vineyards. With plans to implement this technology to all of their vineyards, this technology may soon become an agricultural staple.

With the need for sustainable agriculture becoming an increasingly drastic issue, utilizing new conservation technologies and practices is essential. Satellite imagery has potential to do just that.

This technology could be applied to many other areas of agriculture around the world, especially in places where water is scarce. For example, California, which is in its fifth year of severe drought, could benefit immensely from the efficiency of the new system. Economically, this technology could allow for the growing  community to expand and cut costs everywhere in the agriculture industry.