The United Nations recently said that global food output must increase by 70 percent by 2050 to meet the needs of the world’s population. Israeli scientists say tracking changes in climate can improve harvests.

A team of researchers led by Itamar Lensky from Bar-Ilan University and Uri Dayan from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem came up with a way of using satellite images to help farmers detect small-scale changes in climate and improve their harvests. They used public satellite data collected by NASA on microclimates and guided the farmers on the best way to work each plot of land.

In September, Lensky published the process in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Since then he and Dayan have been working to develop it into a global interface that will help farmers across the globe.

“Once we understand how nature works, we pack it into an algorithm, and the results of this algorithm we can give to the farmers,” Lensky told Reuters.

The Israeli method tells farmers when to plant seeds, when to spray pesticides, and which crop to plant where. It also warns of impending pest attacks.

“Insects and other cold-blooded animals depend on ambient temperature for development,” Lensky told ISRAEL21c last summer. “We showed with corn and heliothis, an insect that feeds on corn, tomatoes and cotton — and many different plants all over the world — the effect of local climate on the plants and also on the pests.”