General Satellite images as a tool for monitoring of flax plots


As of this flax season, Inagro, ILVO and VITO will work together with the flax sector on a future-oriented monitoring tool for flax growers. This tool will provide them with remote information about the crop condition of their flax and advise them about the optimal sowing time, possible re-sowing and the use of inhibitors for a homogeneous crop growth. This is being done at the request of the sector, which wants to make the (travelling) time of flax growers for crop monitoring on the widely scattered plots manageable again.

Almost all the flax for this season has been sown. In the earliest sown plots the flax has already risen to the top. For the flax growers a period of driving around to their fields to monitor the growth of their crop is about to begin. And that is exactly what the monitoring tool wants to support the flax growers with.

Flax monitoring

Flax thrives best on fertile soil and can only be grown on the same plot every six to eight years. As a result, flax growers are forced to spread their fields all over the loam and sandy loam region, from the north of France through Belgium to the Netherlands. In order to follow up their crops, they have to travel several days a week. And monitoring is important, because flax is a crop with a short growing season that reacts quickly to heterogeneity in the soil, for example. That is why the sector needs a system that makes remote cultivation monitoring possible, with a good warning system that facilitates fast, accurate cultivation decisions.

Monitoring tool based on satellite images

The monitoring tool is being developed as part of the VLAIO LA project Flaxsense 2.0 and will be available via the existing WatchITgrow web platform. It will mainly make use of satellite images. The tool should mainly show which plots or zones within a plot show abnormal growth, so that the farmer can intervene in time. In addition, the tool wants to predict the optimal sowing time (based on the soil moisture content) and where the growth of the crop should or should not be inhibited. After all, flailers want a homogeneous harvest with good fibre quality. To achieve this, the crop must grow evenly and above all not too quickly.

LA-traject Flaxsense 2.0

In order to be able to link crop growth in the monitoring tool to the correct cultivation advice, ILVO will calibrate and validate an existing flax growth model. To this end, Inagro and ILVO will monitor twenty plots of flax this year and the coming years, both from the ground and with satellite images.

On a number of these plots a soil sensor was installed this spring to measure the soil moisture content. These data will be used to check whether the use of soil moisture maps and satellite images, in combination with weather forecasts, can be used to formulate recommendations about the ideal sowing time.

In addition, both Inagro and ILVO have sown a specific flax trial last month to investigate the difference in growth between varieties and to measure and model the impact of a growth regulator on the growth of flax. These trials will be followed up with drone images. The data will be used to set up a decision support tool concerning the braking of the flax, so that flax growers can make well-founded decisions as to whether or not braking is necessary (locally).

Inagro, ILVO and VITO will work closely together on this during the next 4 growing seasons. As soon as the model has been finalised, the satellite images and corresponding crop advice will be made accessible to flax growers via a digital flax tool on the WatchITgrow web platform.

If you already want to take a look at the WatchItGrow platform, you can do so via this link: (free after registration with your e-mail address).

The VLAIO LA project Flaxsense 2.0 is being performed in cooperation with and with the support of

Flaxsense partners


Contact us

Simon Cool

Coordinator, Living Lab Agrifood Technology

Jonathan Van Beek

ILVO Researcher