29 September 2014

Growers Nation brings citizen science to the farm

A new app designed at IIASA makes agricultural data available for gardeners and smallholder farmers around the world, and allows users to share information and inform future research.

©Spectral-Design/Shutterstock

©Spectral-Design/Shutterstock

Knowing what to plant and when is vital information both for farmers and for gardeners who want to grow their own fruits and vegetables. The Growers Nation app, officially released last Friday, provides this information as well as other vital details in an easy-to-use format designed for both small-scale gardeners and farmers in developing countries.

“The Growers' Nation app tells you which fruits, vegetables and other crops will grow well in your area, and when it’s best to plant and harvest them. You can also connect with other local growers to learn useful growing tips and share your knowledge,” says Tobias Sturn, the lead app developer on the project.

One goal of the app is to help reducing food insecurity in developing countries, by providing information to farmers to help boost crop yields and production, for example by encouraging farmers to plant diverse crops.

“Initially we are aiming to reach farmers in Kenya and Tanzania, two countries in Africa with large numbers of smallholder farmers,  thriving mobile phone use and a good network of contact points on the ground,” says Steffen Fritz, leader of a major ERC project which helped to fund the app. “We hope that this app will encourage farmers with similar growing conditions to communicate with one another, helping them to adapt to climate change and to discuss solutions to problems such as pests, disease and so on.”

At the same time, the app connects and enables a network of citizen scientists, ordinary citizens worldwide who can upload information about what they planted and harvested. In the future the app will also allow users to upload information about soil moisture and soil type.  

Finally, the app serves as a source of education and information for gardeners around the world, raising awareness of agriculture and the environment, as well as science in the general public.

The app uses data on temperature, precipitation, elevation, slope, and other factors, available from the GEOSS portal. It was developed at IIASA in cooperation with Growers Nation, the University of Maryland and the United Kingdom Met Office, as part of the Geo Appathon, which ended on 26 September, 2014. 

The Growers Nation App is available on iTunes and Google Play.



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Last edited: 29 September 2014

CONTACT DETAILS

Steffen Fritz

Deputy Program Director

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 353

Linda See

Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 423

Tobias Sturn

Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 544

Growers Nation

Find more information and download the app.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313