USDA Providing New Satellite-Based Vegetation Assessment


The USDA recently announced that it was launching a new, state-of-the-art, satellite-based crop condition vegetation assessment and monitoring service named VegScape.

Much like the popular CropScape geospatial product, VegScape delivers interactive vegetation indices so that Web users can explore, visualize, query and disseminate current vegetative cover maps and data without the need for specialized expertise, software, or high-end computers.

With the new satellite-based data, which will be loaded on a weekly basis during the growing season, one can compare year-to-year changes over a span of 12 years. Among the many functions available is the ability to overlay a crop mask to help identify cropland versus non-cropland areas.

When viewing the maps, a deep green color typically indicates strong plant vigor, while yellow or brown indicates poorer plant conditions.

Vegetation indices, when compared with prior years, have proven to be useful in assessing crop conditions and identifying the land areas impacted by floods, droughts, major weather anomalies and vulnerabilities of early or late-season crops.

Administered by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, the data provided by VegScape can be directly exported to Google Earth or delivered to other applications via Web services.

To access VegScape, click here.