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The impact of agricultural interventions can be doubled by using satellite data


Feeding a growing population while reducing negative environmental impacts is one of the greatest challenges of the coming decades. We show that microsatellite data can be used to detect the impact of sustainable intensification interventions at large scales and to target the fields that would benefit the most, thereby doubling yield gains. Our work reveals that satellite data provide a scalable approach to sustainably increase food production.

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Fig. 1: Mean yield and nitrogen use efficiency gain from the sustainable intensification technology.
Fig. 2: Relative yield gain from targeting the sustainable intensification technology.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Code availability

The code that supports the findings of this study is available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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We thank the field staff at CSISA for conducting fieldwork, B. Weeks, the Jain lab, N. Wale and A. Agrawal for discussions about this manuscript, and Planet for providing access to Planetscope and Skysat data. This work was funded by the NSF SEES Postdoctoral fellowship (award no. 1415436 to M.J.) and the NASA Land Cover and Land Use Change grant (no. NNX17AH97G to M.J., D.B.L. and B.-S.).

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M.J., D.B.L., B.-S. and A.J.M. conceptualized the research. M.J., S.P., A.K.S., P.R. and G.A. collected, processed and cleaned the data. J.B. conducted the nitrogen use efficiency analysis. M.J. conducted all other formal analysis and wrote the original draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to reviewing and editing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Meha Jain.

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Supplementary Methods, refs. 1–7, Figs. 1–3 and Tables 1–9.

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Jain, M., Balwinder-Singh, Rao, P. et al. The impact of agricultural interventions can be doubled by using satellite data. Nat Sustain 2, 931–934 (2019).

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