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BayWa enters space race to boost yields

German conglomerate partners with European Space Agency to advance satellite monitoring of its production

BayWa enters space race to boost yields

Part of an image taken by the ESA’s Sentinel-2 satellite above Vojvodina, a major agricultural centre in Serbia (Photo: ESA)

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Fresh from making an eye-catching investment in harvesting automation start-up Abundant Robotics, German conglomerate BayWa has reconfirmed its commitment to supporting the development of ground-breaking agricultural technologies by partnering with the European Space Agency (ESA) to advance the use of satellite data in agriculture.

The company said the partnership would focus on the application of satellite data aimed at optimising the use of resources including water, and improving yields.

According to BayWa, the ESA will contribute technical expertise enabling it to access and interpret data from satellites. For example, a fleet of Sentinel satellites that form the backbone of Copernicus – the world's largest single earth observation programme – are apparently able to provide images that help monitor plant growth and even allow analysts to distinguish between different crops.

For their part, BayWa’s in-house agricultural experts will provide the project with useful feedback on the validity and usefulness of the satellite data being harvested.

“By teaming up with the ESA, we are gaining access to cutting-edge technology for the digital farming solutions of our Group subsidiary FarmFacts,” said BayWa chief executive Klaus Josef Lutz.

“As an agricultural trading company, we are excited to harness this technology in the medium term for the benefit of farms, regardless of their size.”

Integrating data from the Copernicus programme into its agronomic activities is seen as crucial when it comes to forecasting yields more accurately and making food supply more secure, suggested Josef Aschbacher, director of the ESA’s earth observation programmes. “BayWa is therefore an ideal partner for the ESA in order for us to validate and improve our satellite-based models and products in this respect.”

BayWa is the majority owner of New Zealand fresh produce company T&G Global, as well as being parent company of German fruit marketer BayWa Obst and Netherlands-based exotic fruit importer TFC Holland.

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