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Iowa and Landsat

Detailed Description

Iowa is famous for plenty of reasons—its State Fair butter sculptures, its first-in-the-Nation presidential caucuses, and the Iowa Hawkeyes football team, whose mascot doubles as the State nickname—but “corn” might be the first word to cross the mind of a non-Iowan.

Iowa consistently leads the United States in corn production and in the production of hogs, which in turn consume a sizable share of the corn grown there. Corn also drives Iowa’s ethanol industry, which put nearly 4.5 billion gallons of fuel into the supply chain in 2020—more than any other State.

Iowa owes its agricultural dominance largely to its fertile soils, making land management decisions critical to its future. Changes to land cover, more intensive land use, unusual precipitation patterns, and temperature changes, coupled with an influx of extreme weather events—some of which can be tied to or exacerbated by climate change—have placed pressure on the productive farm ground of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Landsat Program satellites can be especially useful in the monitoring and management of croplands across the United States. Backed by a 50-year record of Earth surface change, Landsat satellites can detect the details of vegetation health by peering into the infrared and near-infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Iowa has long served as a proving ground for Landsat-based agricultural research, and its residents and leaders have benefited from that work.

Visit Landsat Benefits, State By State to learn more about how Landsat brings science to your state.


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