A multi-disciplinary group of CALS researchers has begun reaching out to farmers, asking them to become citizen scientists by sharing field-level crop yield data with the research team.

The team, which includes forest and wildlife ecology professor Phil Townsend, entomology professor Claudio Gratton and agronomy professor Chris Kucharik, is developing a new way to measure crop yields from space using satellite remote-sensing technology. They recently used this innovative approach to create a set of annual crop yield maps for Wisconsin and the broader Midwest.

Now they need the help of farmers to “ground truth” the new maps. Field-level crop yield data—for soybean, corn and other crops—isn’t publicly available, so they must rely on farmer-submitted information to independently validate the accuracy of the maps.

The goal of the mapping effort is to learn how to use satellite remote-sensing technology to identify—and someday predict—threats and consequences to crop yields, including the impacts of insect pests, crop diseases and weather events such as drought, frost or hail.

For farmers willing to participate, the data submission process is simple, utilizing an easy-to-use web map application available at More information about the project is available in this recent announcement and on the project’s FAQs page.

The main contact for the project is Phil Townsend. He can be reached at or (608) 262-1669.