Corn Belt crop tour: view from above

  • Variable patterns

    Variable patterns

    The MDA EarthSat July Crop Tour traveled the Corn Belt from Columbus, OH to Omaha, NE, July 23-27.  On Wednesday, flew a small part of the route and discovered highly variable patterns in the droughty crops.

  • Hot, windy, and quiet

    Hot, windy and quiet

    The flight originated at the Muscatine, Iowa, airport, where the temperature was over 100 degrees and the winds were gusting up to 30 miles per hour. Few people were flying on Wednesday, according to the airport's manager.
  • Weedy rivers

    Weedy rivers

    The Cedar River, near the Mississippi, looked about half full. In rivers across the Corn Belt during the tour you could see grass and weeds growing on sandbars.

  • Bird's eye view

    Bird's eye view

    Crop tour participants found highly variable conditions across the droughty route. From the air the full extent of drought damage is revealed to be well beyond what you can see from the road or discover in spot checks. 

  • Sharp contrast

    Sharp contrast

    Circling a farm northwest of Muscatine gave us a better view of an irrigated field on what would likely be sandy soils. The crop on the dryland pivot corners stood in sharp contrast to the watered circle.  

  • Wiped out?

    Wiped out?

    Continuing the route to the northwest, we spotted whole fields that appeared to be headed to a complete loss. 

  • Better pattern

    Better pattern

    Grass waterways gave the impression of well-managed fields and maybe better soils.  Many waterways seen along the way were hayed this year.

  • Pockets of green

    Pockets of green

    Yield checks across the Corn Belt did turn up a few pockets of relative prosperity. Some of the highest yields in Iowa were found in the central part of the state, farther west of our flight route.  

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