Farmers see where the satellite is blind

Satellite data for West Africa is still struggling with local climate and farming practices. Despite the increasing data frequency, the rainy season in West Africa features such a dense cloud cover that many satellites cannot provide cloud free images. In addition, many farmers practice intercropping which means that a single plot can be used to grow different crops such as maize and beans or even have trees. Although the spatial resolution of satellites is ever increasing, this very small-scale intercropping still poses challenges for satellite data analysis. Yet, spatial data on vegetation status and distribution is required for running crop models.

Within TWIGA we therefore developed a smartphone app that allows farmers to collect vegetation data where it matters – on their plot! Modeling often works very well at the global or large scale. When zooming into regional or small scales, such as the plot scale for agriculture, models do have an issue due to coarse input data. Linking crop models with plot-based information by farmers will help to improve the model results and feed back information to the farmers specifically for their plot.

In August 2019 test users in Ghana have been trained to collect data and first data are now used to derive crop parameters to be included in crop modeling.

Written by Jan Friesen