LACIE page 2
emergingtechnologyknown as remote sensing,combinedwith conventional
weather data, to monitor and inventoryagriculturalcommoditieson a global scale.
Wheat because of its great importancein trade and human nutrition,was the primary commodityinvestigatedfor this experiment.Electronicimagery from space was gatheredby the Landsat orbiting satelliteswhich continually scan the agriculturalregions of Earth and provide data for area estimates. Daily data from 8,000 worldwide weather stationswere used both to make timely predictionsof crop area, yield and productionin domesticand foreign wheat growing regions and to provide an early warning of problems.
The effort on the LACIE experimenttook skills in many technicalfields. Earth resourcesscientistswere involvedin identifyingthe "signature"or appearanceof wheat in the satellitedata. Other scientistswere involvedin the developmentof techniquesto estimatethe growth stage of wheat. Computer programswere written to examine weather conditionsalong with the crop yields achieved in past growing seasons in order to estimate the yield for the current growing season, and to combine area and yield estimates for wheat production reports.
The experimentcentered on the hard red wheat crop in the U.S. Great Plains, where detaileddata is available,for comparisonand testingof the technology. Comparisonswere made with USDA reports and ground truth gathered by county agents over many sites.
The LACIE activity is now nearing completion,and the results show that this new technologycan be used effectivelyin improvingthe knowledgeof global wheat production.The technologyis believedto be generally applicable to other crops and the USDA is currentlyconsideringthe use of this new technologyas a data source to aid them in their responsibilityto provide early warnings of significantchanges in the global commodity productionoutlook.
The four-day symposium,to be held at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas will conclude the experiment.People from government,industrialagricultural, and universitycommunitiesaround the world will be attending to learn more abut this pioneeringeffort, and to discuss how this new technologicaltool can best be utilizedto improve the world food situation.