From space, Kansas farms look more like a geometric puzzle than sources of corn, wheat and other crops.
Healthy crops appear green in this archive image by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER). Taken in June 2001, but released this week, the image is a June 24 snapshot of Finney County in Kansas.
Corn would be growing into leafy stalks by late June while sorghum - which resembles corn - grows slower, making it much smaller and possibly paler. Wheat shows up as a bright gold. The brown regions indicated recently harvested, plowed under or unused fields.
Farmers in this region have adopted a more efficient irrigation method, central pivot irrigation, to conserve water from the Ogallala Aquifer. The method draws water from a single well in a field's center, and uses long pipes perched on wheels that rotate around the pivot, showering the crops with water. Because the water falls directly on the crops instead of being shot into the air as occurs with traditional sprinklers, less water is lost to evaporation and more goes to nourishing the growing plants. The circular field shapes are a byproduct of the method. The fields shown here are up to one mile (1.6 kilometers) in diameter.
-- SPACE.com Staff
Credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team.
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