Farmer sends message to space using cows and crop satellite technology

Alex Whitebrook/ April 3, 2018/ News/ 0 comments

Farmer Derek Klingenberg is a YouTube sensation, with major hits including What Does The Farmer Say?

Kansas farmer Derek Klingenberg is known around the world for his YouTube stunts, but now he has captured attention in space.

Famous for his single What Does The Farmer Say?and for the time he serenaded his cow herd with a trombone, Mr Klingenberg has also made headlines for his ‘cow art’ — herding cattle to form pictures and words when viewed from above with a drone.

In his latest antics, he has taken his handiwork to new heights — using technology to have his cow art picked up by a passing satellite.

“I do this cow art thing and I thought it would be cool to get a satellite to take a picture of my cows,” Mr Klingenberg said.

“I like to watch the space station fly over and I have an app that tells me exactly when it’s coming, so I wanted to know when the satellites were coming.”

This is classified information, so the farmer used his 80-foot grain elevator as a sundial to figure it out, with the help of a farming app which updates photos of his farm via satellite daily.

By comparing the shadows of his grain elevator in the images, he worked out the time of day the satellites were passing overhead.

“I figured if there are satellites flying around the poles, that means they’re basically stationary east and west so you’re actually rotating underneath them with the earth,” he said.

“The pictures are blurry but with that sundial, I could actually tell that it was always coming over at the same time.”

Mr Klingenberg then herded his cattle into formation to spell ‘Hi’.

While this might be just a bit of fun, experts say the stunt highlights how satellite technology is becoming increasingly important to agriculture.

The video was sponsored by the farming app that takes photos of crops and sends new satellite photos to farmers’ phones daily, unlike traditional technology that usually takes months or years to update.

Michael Davis from the Australian Space Industry Association said the faster updates were making satellite information more useful to farmers.

“Space lends itself to assisting with agriculture because farms occupy large tracts of land,” he said.

“The revolution is that these new systems intended to provide information more regularly but the resolution is not quite as precise as more sophisticated satellite systems.”


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