Scientists in Israel have developed a way of using satellite images to help farmers detect small-scale changes in climate and improve their harvests, a method that could bolster food supplies for an increasingly hungry world population.

Rather than analyze the weather and topography of large swathes of land, the new system divides fields into smaller microclimates that guide farmers on the best way to work each individual plot.

It tells them when it is best to plant seeds, when to spray pesticides and even which crop is most suitable for each square-kilometer field, said Uri Dayan, a climatologist from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.