Sunday, November 28, 2004

New spy satellites to keep tabs on farmers

The EU is to use new ultrasensitive spy satellites to ensure that farmers are complying with the new single area payments regime. Near earth satellites have been used for some time to detect false claims for arable aid payments or for olive grove subsidies in Italy. The new satellites will be used to ensure that farmers are keeping their land in good environmental and agricultural condition as required by the rules of the new support regime.

The new generation of satellites will provide 'very high resolution' observations that can distinguish features less than a metre across, ten times better than the previous generation of remote-sensing satellites. It will be possible to tell whether farmers are meeting environmental obligations such as maintaining hedges or leaving enough cultivated land to sustain biodiversity around field boundaries. The EC Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, carried out trials of very high resolution monitoring on 15,000 sq km of land last year and 50,000 sq km this year. Next year it expects to roll out an operational programme covering 150,000 sq km, about ten per cent of the EU's total agricultural area.

Although ways of analysing the images by computer are being worked on, the human eye will still be relied on to scrutinise the images for the foreseeable future. Traditional on-the-spot checks by inspectors visiting farms will continue to supplement the satellite monitoring.

For a polity that sometimes claims that it seeks to counter US hegemony, it is somewhat ironic that the project is particularly reliant on the US Quickbird and Ikonos satellites. The whole operation draws attention to the transaction costs of maintaining even a somewhat simplified support regime. The attractions of paying off farmers with a bond scheme remain strong, but such a scheme would be unlikely to attract political support.

26 Comments:

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Hello there.

Couldn't help but noticing that you are a Charlton supporter, with a weblog devoted to the CAP. As much as it pains to say this, Mr Grant, do you not think that this kind of carry on will only cause further detrement to the Charlton Athletic cause? After all, Millwall and Palace fans have been accusing your lot of being anoraks for a while, and it's exactly this kind of thing which helps justify that.

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Well, is there something a little weird going on here? I don't know about you Wyn Grant, but my blog gets pretty cluttered with spammy comments from people. My advice to you as one blog owner to another, is to be patient and focus on the great things about having a blog, instead of all the junk that goes on. You do have a quality blog and appears that you enjoy it. My favorite web project so far is a new surf boards site, because I have total control and it makes me a couple dollars here and there. It's pretty hard to find new information on new surf boards stuff though. Hey, keep up your excellent job Wyn Grant, and good luck with your projects..

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