A large part of Heretaunga Plains horticulture was photographed for us by satellite at the end of November.
Part of our OnionsNZ Variability project, the World View 2 coverage targeted our crop and other onion crops east of Hastings.
By capturing four bands of light, Blue, Green, Red and Near Infrared, we are able to get a “normal” colour image like an aerial photo, and a biomass map using the NDVI index.
The satellite image pixel size in 0.5m x 0.5m, so we get at least two pixels across each onion bed.
In the NDVI image, the onion crop is lower left paddock, the vining peas upper right. Red areas indicate low or no biomass, yellow light, green moderate and blue heavy cover. Note however that the value of each colour is slightly different for each crop.
Because the pea canopy is full ground cover while the onions are only roughly half ground cover, we had to use different value bands to see variation within each crop. If we used the same range, either the peas would all be blue, or the onions mostly yellow and red.
The striping effect in the onions is the onion beds. Some adjacent beds have quite different canopy densities. The red edge around the onions is bare soil and light canopy in the outer beds. The blue area in the centre is influenced by charcoal from an old bonfire site. Even taking these things into account, there is a reasonably large amount of variation in this crop.
Red spots in the pea crop are patches with no plants. The red headlands show light canopy areas and the red strip centre right the irrigator access track. There are three different seed lines of Ashton peas making up the pea crop. These are not discernable in the satellite image. The crop was harvested on 14 December, and there was no significant difference seen in hand harvested plots or in the viner.