Most Sub Saharan farmers have limited resources and no access to farm data. Appropriate information at the right location and timing is essential for these farmers to make decisions regarding application of their limited resources such as water, seeds, fertilizer and labour. FutureWater has therefore developed a service using low-cost flying sensors in a development context to ensure that farmers will get information at their specific level of understanding and simultaneously develop a network of service providers. The flying sensors provide valuable high-resolution information, using near-infrared, thermal and visual imagery to detect crop stress in farm fields. Near-infrared light is not visible to the human eye, but provides information on the status of the crop about 10 days earlier than that yielded by the red-green-blue spectrum that is visible to the human eye. Based on the images, which have a resolution of about 2 cm/pixel, farmers can take decisions on where to do what in terms of irrigation, fertilizer application and pesticides.
With flying sensors (drones) we can provide this essential information:
- At an ultra-high spatial resolution
- At an unprecedentedly flexibility in location and timing
- At a spectrum outside the human eye
- At an in-country business oriented approach
We are convinced that this innovation is a game changer comparable with the introduction of mobile phones that empowered farmers with instantaneous information regarding markets and market prices. With information from flying sensors they can also manage their inputs to maximize yields and simultaneously reduce unnecessary waste of resources. Instead of relying on common-sense management, farmers are now able to take decisions based on facts, resulting in an increase in water productivity. In summary, the flying sensors close the missing link to agronomic information on where to do what and when, leading to more crop per drop!
Over the past years we have successfully set-up operational flying sensor services for smallholder farmers in Kenya and Mozambique. At present we serve thousands of farmers at multiple locations through a network of local operators. Our business model pinpoints the need to set up independent, self-standing companies in African countries, as already accomplishedin Kenya and Mozambique. These companies employ local agronomists who are trained in using flying sensors to go to farmers’ fields, conduct flights, analyze the images and use these to provide advice to farmers, for which they get paid directly.
Right now we are working on integrating thermal cameras with the flying sensors to specifically detect water related crop stress and are developing online portals through which all the flying sensor maps are made available. One of these portals can be found here.
FutureWater, HiView and ThirdEye Kenya have partnered with Egerton University (Crops, Horticulture & Soils Department) to conduct a tailor-made training on 'Crop models and remote sensing for water management in agricultural systems'. This training project is funded by the NUFFIC - TMT program.
The PROMAC II project is an ongoing project of NCBA Clusa introducing conservation farming practices to various locations in the Manica, Tete and Zambezia provinces, with the objective to increase agricultural productivity. This project incorporates flying sensor activities in the PROMAC II project as a M&E indicator of the practices…
The project has as its overall aim to increase climate resilient agricultural productivity and food security, with a specific objective to increase the water productivity and profitability of smallholder farmers in Mozambique, prioritizing small (family sector) farmers to increase food and nutritional security. This project will demonstrate what the best…
The SMART-WADI project (SMART Water Decisions for Iran), carried out by a consortium of FutureWater, IHE-Delft, and local partner EWERI, focuses on farmers who irrigate their crops with groundwater. The aim is to provide up-to-date information and advice on water productivity, irrigation and farm management. The project combines the latest…
TWIGA: Transforming Weather Water data into value-added Information services for sustainable Growth in Africa
TWIGA aims to provide actionable geo-information on weather, water, and climate in Africa through innovative combinations of new in situ sensors and satellite-based geo-data. With the foreseen new services, TWIGA expects to reach twelve million people within the four years of the project, based on sustainable business models. The TWIGA…
The objective of this pilot study was to achieve plot-level maps of water productivity and yield to test a methodology to assess the performance of different farmers in order to provide them with recommendations to improve water productivity. More specifically, this pilot study combined high-resolution imagery from Flying Sensors with…
The outputs of this project can be summarized as providing real time dike and levee information at local scales (up to 10,000 ha) that is collected, analysed and used at the same local scale. The output is divided into two components. First, the Flying Sensor information will be used for…
The ThirdEye project supports farmers in Mozambique and Kenya with their decision making in farm and crop management by setting up a network of flying sensors operators. Our innovation is a major transformation in farmers’ decision making regarding the application of limited resources such as water, seeds, fertilizer and labor.…
The main objective of this study is to explore the potential to combine optical and gravity data from Earth Observation with meteorological data, together with innovative in situ sensors, hydrological modelling and crowd sourcing technologies, and the advanced visualization of the information through situation awareness platforms and decision support tools,…