01 October 2014
31 March 2019

BELCAM - BELgian Collaborative Agriculture Monitoring at parcel level for sustainable cropping systems

The BELCAM platform is dedicated to farmers and farming support organisations. It provides easy access to satellite information and offers free derived products to improve crop management at field level

Towards a more sustainable agriculture

Excessive use of fertilizers is now recognised as playing a major role in environmental degradation and is encouraging farmers to improve their management of these fertilizers. Nitrogen application rates can be optimized at field level according to the crop needs. Good nitrogen input management practices have many economic and environmental benefits (runoff, leaching,...) and can increase the yield and quality of the crop.

A new generation of European satellites for agricultural monitoring

Since 2016, the emergence of a new generation of satellite sensors with high spatial and temporal resolution (including Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and PROBA-V) has paved the way for the development of new prototypes of innovative agricultural management support applications that are more connected to their end users.

Accelerating the information loop between users and suppliers

Based on the most recent innovations in remote sensing and Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the research challenge is to profoundly modify the interactions between users and producers of information. It is also a question of significantly accelerating the critical learning process for suppliers of remote sensing technologies through input and feedback from users.


The main objective of the project was to develop remote sensing methods and processing chains capable of integrating data provided by farmers or associated partners, on a voluntary basis or on the basis of an exchange of information services. This enables the delivery of relevant and up-to-date information at both field and district level. The information chain involves satellites, researchers developing methods, pilot and technical centers and farmers.

The methods developed aimed to determine by satellite remote sensing useful variables for agricultural monitoring at field level, such as leaf area index, chlorophyll concentration, nitrogen content or biomass. The aim was also to identify the sources of variability explaining the prediction performance of the different variables.

Finally, the improvement of classical yield models through the assimilation of satellite information was evaluated.

Below is a general outline of the processes involved in BELCAM, from raw satellite data to the various products developed for use on the online platform.


The BELCAM platform supports the continuous improvement of remote sensing products.

The main outcome of this project is a prototype of the "Collaborative Observation System for Belgian Agriculture": the BELCAM platform. The BELCAM platform is designed to enable the continuous improvement of remote sensing products in order to, on one hand, advise farmers at field level and, on the other hand, contribute to agricultural services by providing an a posteriori analysis of the growing season (evaluation of stresses, diseases and impact study according to the regions).

Satellite information for everyone thanks to the BELCAM platform

The online platform facilitates access to satellite information for farmers and management structures. The platform is supported by public and scientific institutions and is neutral, independent, open, free of charge and attentive to farmers needs.

This platform supply :

  • Pre-processed raw satellite images, with visible and near-infrared images displayed
  • Local agro-meteorological data
  • A monitoring of crop growth at the field level based on a green biomass index and a comparison with the development of fields within a radius of 4km².
  • Yield estimations (wheat, maize, potato) using satellite information.
  • The nitrogen status of winter wheat and potato (to come) at field level, through the estimation of the nitrogen content and the Nitrogen Nutrition Index (NNI). These indicators can be used to improve the management of nitrogen fertilisation during the growing season when the total nitrogen supply is splitted.
  • Two existing nitrogen recommendation tools based on the balance sheet method: REQUAFERTI and the “Livre Blanc Cereales”. The objective is to replace part of the inputs values by remote sensing estimations to make them more objective. This is the case of winter cover crop biomass, whose estimation was assessed during the project. The identification of the main crop and winter cover crop were also assessed.

Useful links


  • Preparation and implementation of field campaigns and analysis of field samples (sample processing and infra-red analysis)
  • Development of remote sensing models
  • Conceptualization of the online platform
  • Content of the online platform
  • Organisation of meetings with platform users (pilot and technical centres, farmers)
  • Presentations at numerous conferences and agricultural fairs
  • Production of scientific publications and promotional and vulgarisation documents


  • Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain), Earth and Life Institute / Environmental science (ELI-e) : Pierre Defourny
  • Flemish institute for technological research (VITO) - Remote Sensing Unit : Isabelle Piccard
  • Université de Liège (ULg), Département des Sciences et Gestion de l’Environnement - Campus Arlon : Bernard Tychon
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA)


Prof. Pierre Defourny

Université catholique de Louvain (UCL)

Earth and Life Institute / Environmental science (ELI-e)

Croix du Sud 2, bte L7.05.16, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve




Curnel, Y. , Goffart, D. , Raspini, L. , Goffart, J.P. & Planchon, V. (2023). A tool for Agriculture Monitoring at parcel level for sustainable cropping. Lecture in: Poster réalisé dans le cadre de la visite au CRAW du Ministre Willy Borsus et de l'ambassadeur du Vietnam en Belgique, 7/04/2023 - BELCAM. Goffart, D. (2022). BELCAM : Les satellites au service des agriculteurs. Proceedings in: 150 ans du CRA-W : “Les capteurs au service de l’agriculture, de la forêt et de l’agro-alimentaire font le show”. Gembloux, CRA-W, 07-09-2022, Defourny, P. (2020). BELCAM platform to serve unique EO-derived agriculture information. Virtual Border-crossing Earth Observation Day 2020. Lecture in: BEODAY, 24/11/2020. Goffart, J.P. , Curnel, Y. , Planchon, V. , Defourny, P. , Delloye, C. , Leonard, A. , Hamid Sallah, A.. , Wellens, J. , Tychon, B. , Baret, F.. , Gobin, A. & Piccard, I. (2015). BELCAM, Belgian collaborative agriculture monitoring at parcel level for sustainable cropping systems. Poster in: POTATOEUROPE 2015, Kain, 2-3-septembre-2015. Goffart, D. (2023). Des informations gratuites issues des images satellites pour le suivi de vos parcelles, Présentation de la plateforme BELCAM/STARGATE. Proceedings in: Potato Europe 2023, Kain, 06/09/2023, Goffart, D. , Curnel, Y. , Planchon, V. , Goffart, J.P. & Defourny, P. (2021). Field-scale assessment of Belgian winter cover crops biomass based on Sentinel-2 data. (BELCAM). Lecture in: European Journal of Agronomy, (126), 26/11/2020. Goffart, D. , Ben Abdallah, F. , Curnel, Y. , Planchon, V. , Defourny, P. & Goffart, J.-. (2022). In-Season Potato Crop Nitrogen Status Assessment from Satellite and Meteorological Data. European Association for Potato Research, 65: 27. Goffart, D. , Ben Abdallah, F. , Curnel, Y. , Planchon, V. , Defourny, P. & Goffart, J.P. (2023). In-season potato crop nitrogen status monitoring from satellite and meteorological data. Poster in: AgreenSmart ULG Gx ABT, 30/08/2023. Goffart, D. , Ben Abdallah, F. , Curnel, Y. , Demaet, T. , Planchon, V. , Defourny, P. & Goffart, J.P. (2023). In-season potato crop nitrogen status monitoring from satellite and meteorological date - Research results and practical application. Lecture in: EAPR Agronomy&Physiology and Pos-Harvest sections joint meeting, 27/06/2023 - BELCAM/STARGATE. Goffart, J.P. , Ben Abdallah, F. , Goffart, D. , Curnel, Y. & Planchon, V. (2022). Potato crop nitrogen status monitoring with optical sensors : last decade developments and implementation to contribute to sustainable N-fertilisation management. 48 slides. Lecture in: EAPR 2022, 21st triennial conference. Krakow, 4-8/07/2022. Curnel, Y. (2020). Présentation de la plateforme BELCAM lors d’une des « soirées de l’agriculture » organisées par le « Parc Naturel Plaines de l’Escaut ». Quels outils numériques pour simplifier la gestion de mon exploitation ?,