Resource Spotlight

Agriculture and Water Management

six-panel image of planted green fields acquired by satellite
This montage of six images from the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) sensor aboard NASA’s Terra satellite shows differences in field geometry and size in different parts of the world. Credit: NASA's Earth Observatory.

NASA satellites have orbited Earth for decades, gathering data on land use changes, the health of plants, the temperature of the land, and a slew of other data—information that can be put to use by our nation’s farmers and others in the field of agriculture and water management.

As with all NASA data, these resources are available fully, openly, and without restriction, including the almost 80 petabytes (PB) of Earth observation data in NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) collection. New to using NASA Earth science data? Our Earthdata Get Started page will help give you the foundation you need to search, visualize, and work with NASA Earth observing data and analysis tools.

Data Pathfinders and Backgrounders

Data Pathfinders provide direct links to commonly-used datasets across NASA’s Earth science data collections. They are intended to familiarize users with datasets applicable to various areas of study (such as disasters, diseases, or sea level change) and provide guidance on data resolutions (spectral, spatial, and temporal) along with links to data sources. Relevant Pathfinders are:

  • Agriculture and Water Management: This Pathfinder is directed toward agricultural and water resource managers, decision makers, and anyone interested in using NASA data to monitor crop production or water availability
  • Water Quality: This Pathfinder is geared to water quality managers and researchers who need to monitor bodies of water locally, regionally, and globally, and helps those who are trying to determine the impacts of changes in water quality to ecosystems, humans, and the environment and to restore and protect coastal and surface waters

Backgrounders are informational articles providing deeper explanations of key topics in Earth science to aid in understanding data and data use. Helpful backgrounders are:

  • What is Data Latency?: Several factors affect the speed at which data are processed and made available to users
  • Essential Variables: Essential variables (EV) are variables known to be critical for observing and monitoring a given facet of the Earth system; having a common set of accurate and sustained measurements with standards for data collection and dissemination ensures the usability of data across multiple platforms and agencies
  • What is Remote Sensing?: Learn the basics of how remote sensors enable data-informed decision-making
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS): GIS is a powerful tool for exploring Earth science data

Articles and Data User Profiles

Three part image with man in field, woman standing in front of foliage, and headshot of man in office.
Left to right: Dave Johnson, Dr. Pinki Mondal, and Dr. Thomas Parris are using NASA Earth science data in agricultural applications. Read more about their work in their Data User Profiles.

Along with all the great data available through Earthdata Search and NASA's Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs), feature articles on the Earthdata website provide information about missions, data, and data applications related to agriculture, crops, and water management. Data User Profiles show how individual scientists and researchers are using NASA Earth science data and how these data are being applied in local communities.

Recent Articles

ORNL DAAC Releases First GEDI Level 4 Dataset Offering Predictions of Aboveground Biomass Density
New dataset provides the first high-resolution 3D aboveground biomass density estimates for tropical and temperate forests around the globe.

New Gridded Level 3 Data Product Facilitates the Use of GEDI Mission Data
The data product offerins gridded estimates of canopy height and ground elevation.

Measuring the World's Croplands
The Global Food Security-support Analysis Data (GFSAD) collection provides detailed maps of agricultural croplands around the world at 30-meter spatial resolution.

Satellites and Citizen Scientists Help Track Water Resources in Bangladesh
NASA satellite data and citizen scientists are giving the government of Bangladesh a better understanding of the country's surface water storage.

Lasering in on Cornfields
New research uses 3D lidar profiles of Earth's surface to map where corn is being grown.

Commercial Satellites Shed Light on Small-Scale Agriculture
Commercial, high-resolution imagery available through the Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition (CSDA) program can be used to map small-scale agriculture.

Satellites Help Improve Crop Yields in India
Satellites provide crucial information for researchers to monitor and help improve agricultural productivity in India.

Relevant Data User Profiles

  • Dave Johnson uses satellite data to estimate U.S. crop production
  • David Mocko uses land surface models to study drought
  • Dr. Thomas Parris uses socioeconomic data to assess the impact of water stress on agriculture, industries, and people
  • Dr. Faisal Hossain uses NASA data to improve water management and accelerate economic development in Asia and Southeast Asia
  • Dr. Navin Ramankutty helps develop pathways to more sustainable agricultural practices
  • Dr. Pierre Kirstetter works to improve our understanding of precipitation and flooding
  • Dr. Pinki Mondal uses remotely-sensed data to study the effects of climate change on agricultural systems and communities

Explore more Data User Profiles


NASA Earthdata Webinars span the Earth science disciplines and are designed to help users learn about NASA Earth observing data, services, and tools and show users how to work with these resources.

Data Recipes and Tutorials

Data recipes are step-by-step instructions for using and working with Earth science data, information, tools, and services. Tutorials show how to use a wide range of data products, data discovery, and data access tools, including programming languages and related software.

Additional Resources

Interactive StoryMap: NASA at Your Table: Earth Data Informs Agriculture and Water Resource Management

Last Updated
Mar 6, 2023