Spaceborne Imaging Spectroscopy for Sustainable Agriculture: Contributions and Challenges

Tobias B. Hank*, Katja Berger, Heike Bach, Jan G.P.W. Clevers, Anatoly Gitelson, Pablo Zarco-Tejada, Wolfram Mauser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Agriculture faces the challenge of providing food, fibre and energy from limited land resources to satisfy the changing needs of a growing world population. Global megatrends, e.g., climate change, influence environmental production factors; production and consumption thus must be continuously adjusted to maintain the producer–consumer-equilibrium in the global food system. While, in some parts of the world, smallholder farming still is the dominant form of agricultural production, the use of digital information for the highly efficient cultivation of large areas has become part of agricultural practice in developed countries. Thereby, the use of satellite data to support site-specific management is a major trend. Although the most prominent use of satellite technology in farming still is navigation, Earth Observation is increasingly applied. Some operational services have been established, which provide farmers with decision-supporting spatial information. These services have mostly been boosted by the increased availability of multispectral imagery from NASA and ESA, such as the Landsat or Copernicus programs, respectively. Using multispectral data has arrived in the agricultural commodity chain. Compared to multispectral data, spectrally continuous narrow-band sampling, often referred to as hyperspectral sensing, can potentially provide additional information and/or increased sampling accuracy. However, due to the lack of hyperspectral satellite systems with high spatial resolution, these advantages mostly are not yet used in practical farming. This paper summarizes where hyperspectral data provide additional value and information in an agricultural context. It lists the variables of interest and highlights the contribution of hyperspectral sensing for information-driven agriculture, preparing the application of future operational spaceborne hyperspectral missions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-551
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Issue number3
Early online date26 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Agriculture
  • Biophysical and biochemical variables
  • Food security
  • Hyperspectral
  • Spaceborne imaging spectroscopy

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