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February 9, 2017

This EarthView from Landsat shows how flooding in Argentina can affect global soybean prices.

EarthViews is a continuing series in which we share a USGS Image of the Week featuring the USGS/NASA Landsat program. From the artistry of Earth imagery to natural and human-caused land change over time, check back every Friday to finish your week with a visual flourish!

In this follow-up Landsat 8 image, taken on January 23, 2017, flooding along the rivers through Argentina’s soybean-growing areas can be seen. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.(Public domain.)

The EarthView: Argentina Flooding Has Major Impact on Soybean Production


Heavy rains in late December 2016 and early January 2017 are affecting soybean production in Argentina’s bread-basket provinces while impacting soy prices worldwide.

Landsat 8’s Operational Land Imager is a valuable tool for confirming weather’s impact on crop production. While rainfall is common in northeastern Argentina from December through February each year, the flooding of soybean fields in that area is dramatic in the January 2017 Landsat image, compared to a similar period in January 2015, when no such inundation covers the landscape.

In this Landsat 8 image, taken on January 2, 2015, Argentina’s soybean farmlands can be seen with thin blue bands streaking through where rivers are. Credit: USGS/NASA Landsat Program.(Public domain.)

The flooding in the world’s third largest soybean-exporting country caused soybean and soymeal prices to hit six-month highs in mid-January on the Chicago Board of Trade, commodity analysts said. Argentina’s Rosario Grains Exchange has reported that almost 4 million acres of soybeans in that country were damaged by this recent flooding. This image shows a portion of that inundation.

As the longest-running satellite system covering the Earth, Landsat is vital to national and international food production. The Landsat imagery not only helps verify crop damage, as it did in this case, but is also valuable to agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture for formulating reports on crop production, condition, progress, and projecting yields.

Hungry for some science, but you don’t have time for a full-course research plate? Then check out USGS Science Snippets, our snack-sized science series that focuses on the fun, weird, and fascinating stories of USGS science.

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