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Crop Agriculture

Free Courses (Follow to Use Free GIS Software & Satellite Imagery)

About Free Courses

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. The courses guide you step-by-step through the process of downloading and installing free QGIS software, as well as free satellite imagery, then progress to converting the imagery to surface reflectance and analyzing imagery. QGIS is the recommended free GIS software because it is quite capable and user-friendly. If you have other GIS software, such as ArcGIS, you can follow along with the concepts (however, the Landsat 8 Surface Reflectance Tutorial and Sentinel-2 Surface Reflectance Tutorial are designed for ArcGIS).

Courses are to be added on an ongoing basis in proper order. The goal of the courses is to make users proficient (at no cost and on their own schedule) applying free GIS software and data (including imagery, elevation data & more). The About Courses page has more background information.

1) Downloading and Installing Free GIS Software & Downloading Imagery.

A) Downloading and Installing Free QGIS software (Go to QGIS User Manual on this Website)

B) Downloading Free Landsat 8 & Sentinel-2 Imagery from this Website and Opening in QGIS

C) Downloading Free High-Resolution Imagery from The National Map (USA) for a Base Layer in GIS (You can add base map imagery in QGIS through the "Open Layers" plugin if you have a sufficient internet speed, bypassing the need to download imagery).

D) Downloading Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 from GloVIS Next and Opening in QGIS (nearly world coverage)


2) Converting Landsat 8 & Sentinel-2 Imagery to Surface Reflectance by Image-Based Atmospheric   Correction in Free QGIS. Calculating Certain Spectral Indices.

A) Converting Landsat 8 Imagery to Surface Reflectance in QGIS; necessary to calculate indices, such as NDVI, MSAVI2, and NDWI (Landsat 8 SR Tutorial is customized for ArcGIS users).

B) Converting Sentinel-2 Imagery to Surface Reflectance in QGIS; necessary to calculate indices, such as NDVI, MSAVI2, and NDWI (Sentinel-2 SR Tutorial is customized for ArcGIS users).

C) Calculating Spectral Indices from Satellite Imagery; WDRI, NDVI (plant biomass and vigor), Red-Edge Ratio (grass chlorophyll and nitrogen content), NDWI (for plant water content), dNBR (burn area mapping), NDSI (snow mapping). It is important to complete Course 3A if applying imagery to vegetation.

D) Extracting Imagery or Elevation Data to the Extent of a Field (or other area of interest).


3) Crop Condition Analysis and Yield Prediction with Free Software and Imagery. 

A) - Fundamentals of Remote Sensing of Crops; Includes Steps to Acquire & Use FREE Satellite Imagery for Crops/Vegetation in FREE GIS Software


4) Click Here for Wildfire Mapping Information. Click Here for Snow Mapping Information. Contact us or search independently for other mapping topics.


5) Downloading and Using LiDAR-Based Elevation Rasters.

A) - Course 5A - Downloading and Using Free High Resolution Elevation Data in Free QGIS Software


You can now apply imagery to a useful extent to Course 2C: Calculating Spectral Indices, including vegetation, wildfire, snow, water/algae bloom, or any other topic of your choice. QGIS has many other features and tools to process imagery - we chose to show how to apply it in simple and useful ways so you can more easily start using data. However, you can access the QGIS  User Guide or Training Manual to learn how to use QGIS in more detail.