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March 6th, 2017
Airbus Boosts its Capacity in the Agricultural Sector with European Sentinel Satellites

Toulouse – Airbus broadens the range of sensors used in its agricultural services, Farmstar and Fodder Production Index, with the Sentinel 2A and Sentinel 3A satellites of the European Copernicus programme. This improves the level of availability and enhances the quality of both services, with farmers reaping the benefits.

Farmstar, launched fifteen years ago, is a precision agricultural service based on remote sensing that provides key agronomic recommendations to more than 18,000 farmers in France for sustainable wheat, barley, triticale and rapeseed crop growing. Sentinel 2A ihas been operationally used since December 2016, whilesupplementing the SPOT and DMC constellation satellites and helping to elaborate recommendations which are issued throughout the growing season. Sentinel 2A will very shortly be joined by its twin, Sentinel 2B, thus doubling the acquisition capacity of the Sentinel 2 system and significantly improving the reliability of the Farmstar service.

The Airbus Fodder Production Index for pasture insurance is based on imagery acquired by the MODIS satellite every ten days. It enables agricultural insurers to monitor the status of grass growing throughout France and trigger the payment of compensation to livestock breeders. This can be done without having to resort to a visit by an expert in the event of a shortfall in grass production as a result of climatic hazards. Production of the index entails covering vast areas of land rapidly and on a regular basis. Starting January 2017, the MODIS data will gradually be replaced by data from the Sentinel 3A satellite, which offers images with richer spectral information. They guarantee regular acquisitions, while enhancing the quality of the vegetation maps produced to quantify variations in the annual production of pasture biomass.

Agriculture is the ideal market for satellite observation. It is a demanding field which requires monitoring at a pace dictated by the crop cycle. Both of these services proposed by Airbus rely on various satellites owned and operated by Airbus, as well as partner constellations. Thereby, a reliable and pertinent response can be provided to meet each need, maximising the chances of obtaining the right image at the right time, despite any cloud cover which could compromise imaging at the ideal moment in the crop development cycle.