Why Choose When You Can Do Both??

A Bird's Eye View of the Future

From Tech to Tables

Awe-Inspiring Grace

Turning Problems to Solutions

Keeping Up With Alumni

The Man Behind the Cover

It's in the Bag

Making Everyday Matter

The Best in the West

Creating Harmony at Texas Tech

Understanding Your World

In "Klein'd" to Care

Dive Bombed by a Kite

Behind the Desk

Akers of Love

Keeping Up With Alumni Relations

Innovative Minds

Getting the Most of Your Beef

Sustainability on the South Plains

A Competitive Edge

Success without Studying

50th Annual National Collegiate Soils Contest Gets Dirty

Overseas with the Texas Tech Ranch Horse Team

Striving for Honor in the Pursuit of Excellence





A Mind of its Own

Story by Brooke Parkey


Douglas Harper, a fifth generation farmer, has been growing peanuts for the last six years, and knows that Mother      Nature is not always kind.

“Water is a large factor in producing a high yielding crop, but we can never predict the weather or count on it to bring us what we need,” Harper said. “We use irrigation to compensate for the lack of moisture, but knowing when and how much is never clear.”

Nithya Rajan hopes to one day help farmers like Harper take the guess out of irrigation by using remote sensing technology.


Rajan, a Texas Tech Post-doctoral Research Associate at the Department of Plant and Soil Science, has been working alongside  reserachers from New Mexico State University and the US Department of Agriculture to develop the hi-tech sensing gear, and is excited thus far by the results.

Remote sensing is the science of identifying, observing and measuring an object without making direct contact with it. This new technology is used to estimate the plant’s biophysical characteristics, including ground cover, leaf area, bio mass and yield. Rajan makes it simple. “Remote sensing is similar to a digital camera. You are capturing the reflected light when you take a picture,” Rajan said.

Brownfield, a small farming community west of Lubbock, is the site of the first peanut crop equipped with remote sensing technology. The crop is monitored by cameras carried by a single-engine Cessna 172  aircraft that is operated by Plainview-based, South Plains Precision Ag. Using the high resolution cameras, the plane is able to fly over the field and collect the images in specific wavelengths of light related to plant growth.

When you take the remote sensing imagery you are able to see the different variations of the plant, including its stress levels, disease, pest problems and the overall irrigation needs of the field. Having this system in place could one day help  peanut farmers produce greater yields through improved irrigation practices.

Although remote sensing is not a new technology, the changes and advancements it brings to the industry are still unfamiliar. Many growers are still coming to terms with what remote sensing could mean for the future of their crops.

“Remote sensing has become the new GPS, but this time its navigation for your crops,” said Harper.

Getting the news to farmers about remote sensing technology is a problem that Rajan knows all too well.

 “We have the technology, but we have to have some kind of platform to constantly give information to the farmers,” Rajan said. With proper funding and research Rajan is confident remote sensing could be available to farmers within the next two to four years. Although many farmers are still unaware of the technology, Rajan hopes that crop consultants can bridge the gap between farmers and researchers.

“We have the technology,” Rajan said, “but we have to convince the growers that it is beneficial to their crops, and that  takes time.”