Satellite Imagery Helps Identify Tornado In Corn Field

09:34AM Aug 14, 2020
"If nobody sees a tornado in a field did it really happen? We might not have noticed it if not for @WinFieldUnited R7 images alerting us to go fly the field to see what was going on" says the team on Twitter.
( @FarmRx NuWay-K&H Cooperative )

A farmer was on vacation, but his account manager from NuWay-K&H Cooperative, saw something in the satellite images of his field that needed closer inspection.

“It was the middle of July, and while we in southern Minnesota will sometimes see lines like what we were seeing where you have gas line, it would be strange to see that kind of line this time of year,” says Kevin Anderson Farm Rx site specific ag director at the cooperative. 

The account manager saw the discrepancy in the field from the daily digest of field images sent to this email via the WinField United R7 tool. Two days later in the email digest, the line in the field was there, so the team went out to put boots on the ground. 

“We linked the image with GPS on the account manager’s phone to go out and investigate,” Anderson says. “This wasn’t a conventional field, so we weren’t worried about rootworms. And once they were out there, they knew it was wind from the way the corn was twisted.” 

Next the Farm Rx team flew the area with a drone equipped with NDVI powered by Sentera. 

“We were able to calculate how many acres in that field were effected and report it back to the farmer, who was actually out of town on vacation,” Anderson says. “Where it was red on the NDVI, the corn was completely snapped.”

Anderson says this is just one example of the type of observations they are able to make about fields and then go out and ground truth what’s going on. 

“What made this unique was we were able to completely trace the tornado’s path, which seemingly dropped down and picked up after it crossed this corn field,” he says.