Resource Spotlight


Map showing US Midwest corn production with colors indicating bushels produced.
2019 corn yield across the U.S. Corn Belt based on MODIS/Terra data. Green/blue pixels = areas of greater corn yield (200 or more bushels/acre); yellow/orange/red pixels = areas of lesser corn yield (150 or less bushels/acre). Click on image for larger view. Credit: USDA/NASS graphic derived from NASA MODIS data.

NASA's Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS), a component of the Earth Science Data Systems (ESDS) Program, provides a wealth of data and resources that can help advance the agronomic, crop, and soil sciences. As with all NASA data, these resources are available fully, openly, and without restriction, including the more than 70 petabytes (PB) of Earth observation data in NASA's EOSDIS collection. New to using NASA Earth science data? Our Getting Started with NASA Earth Science Data guide will get you up to speed with searching for NASA Earth observing data, visualizing data, and working with data 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:

  • Agricultural and Water Resources: 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. This pathfinder directs users to NASA Earth science datasets that can aid in forecasting future events or responding to ongoing events, such as drought.
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #2, Zero Hunger: Through SDG 2, Zero Hunger, the United Nations proposes to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030. This pathfinder provides links to NASA data that can be used to help monitor food production and implement agricultural practices that increase production, assess ecosystem health and stability, and track extreme weather, drought, flooding, invasive species, and other disasters.
  • Water Quality: This pathfinder is geared to water quality managers and researchers who need to monitor bodies of water locally, regionally, and globally. It also 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. This backgrounder explains how EOSDIS defines data latency.
  • 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; many NASA missions collect data that meet EV requirements.
  • What is Remote Sensing?: Remote sensing is the acquiring of information from a distance. This backgrounder explains how remote sensors enable data-informed decision-making.
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS): GIS is a collection of computer-based tools for organizing information from a variety of data sources to map and examine changes on Earth. This backgrounder provides an overview of GIS and how GIS can be used in Earth systems investigations.

Articles and Data User Profiles

Images of three individuals profiled in the EOSDIS Data User Profile series.
Left to right: Dave Johnson, Dr. Pinki Mondal, and Dr. Eric Sproles are using NASA Earth science data in agricultural applications. Read more about their work in their Data User Profiles. Credit: NASA EOSDIS.

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, agronomy, and soil science. Our Data User Profiles show how individual scientists and researchers are using EOSDIS 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.

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.

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. Eric Bullock explores the consequences of land use and land cover change in the Amazon and other areas of high biodiversity.
  • Dr. Eric Sproles studies the eco-social impacts of freshwater availability.
  • Dr. Lucy Hutyra studies how changes in vegetation and land use impact flows of carbon between the biosphere and the atmosphere.
  • 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
Jun 21, 2022