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Sweet news from Belgium
Many people know and crave delicious Belgian chocolate, but might not be aware that the Belgian city of Tienen is known as the 'Sugar City' of Europe. And satellites are helping to grow the crop that makes our taste buds tingle.
Central Belgium's Tienen is the home base for one of the world's biggest producers of sugar beet seeds, SESVanderHave.
A key element to producing world-class sugar beet seeds is tailored agricultural practices with continuous monitoring of the plants during the growing season.
Ensuring detailed monitoring of big farmlands in different parts of the world is expensive and time-consuming and, until recently, dependant on experienced field technicians to gather the information.
Over the last few years, SESVanderHave has been experimenting with satellite technology to assist crop monitoring.
Satellite data can provide information about soil conditions and plant stress. This information is then exploited to optimise field management and, ultimately, plant growth.
Research and development is the key to being successful in this market,said Klaas van der Woude, R&D Director of SESVanderHave.
Investigating what Earth observation satellite technology can bring and how our business can benefit from it is required to maintain our leadership in the sector of sugar beet seed production.
To test this new method of crop monitoring, specific satellite-derived information products and operational services were provided by the Belgian company GIM, a leading Earth observation value-adding service provider.
Very high-resolution images from satellites with a frequent revisit time were used. GIM then processed this data in near-real time to produce a time series that accurately monitored the crop fields before and during the growing season.