Spatial Information And The Environment

Spatial information is geographically located data, that is, data that can be related to a position on the earth's surface. It can be obtained from many different sources: satellite imagery, aerial photographs, field-recorded surveys, and weather station reports. The great power of location is that it naturally integrates data that lie close together in space but may be otherwise unrelated.

"Spatial information" is an umbrella term covering information about the environment and its many aspects: agricultural activities, properties, infrastructure such as roads and administrative boundaries, weather and climatic data, and so on. Information is collected in many ways. Some is acquired through on-ground measurements and sampling, but often the most efficient or only method is through remote sensing, for example, aerial photography, satellite imaging, or airborne electromagnetic surveys.

At a basic level, spatial information relates to points, lines, and polygons or areas. Some examples are as follows:

Point—the properties of a soil profile from a sample taken at a single location

Line—a fence line or an irrigation channel

Polygon—a weed patch in a paddock, a paddock property, water catchment, province, or state

Spatially located information can be stored, manipulated, analyzed, and mapped using a computer-based geographic information system (GIS).

The information in this chapter gives an explanation of the principles of remote sensing, geographic information systems, and the global positioning system (GPS), as well as examples of how remote sensing is being used in agrometeorology.

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