Weather Forecasts and Soil Data for African Farms (FarmSupport)

FarmSupport developed an application to provide farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya with weather forecasts and soil moisture information to help improve agricultural decision making

Overview

Weather information is critical for farmers, but in Africa many  have been unable to access information in a timely way.  In response, researchers developed an application, delivered via the internet and mobile phone, to provide up-to-date weather forecasting, and at the same time collect crowd-sourced information from farmers on which crops are planted,  yields, and the types and amounts of fertilizer used.  

The crowd-sourcing feature used a modified Geo-Wiki, thereby promoting two-way communication between the data providers (IIASA and ZAMG) and the farmers. The data should improve IIASA's EPIC crop growth model. Improved crop models could lead to more accurate early warning systems for food security and to better estimates of the current yield gaps, particularly in Africa.

The crowd-sourced data represent  a potentially unique and valuable dataset for agricultural monitoring, mapping and modeling, and will be freely disseminated to the research community via Geo-Wiki. The project will test the information service in two locations: Ethiopia and Kenya. IIASA has existing projects or collaborative links with organizations in these countries that could aid in testing the application.

IIASA Research 

The key data source underpinning the FarmSupport project was soil moisture derived from the ASCAT sensor (onboard the METOP satellites), which became available for Africa through the FFG-funded project Global Monitoring of Soil Moisture for Water Hazards Assessment (GMSM).

The FarmSupport project added value to GMSM by demonstrating the potential of ASCAT-derived soil moisture. This project provided an opportunity to evaluate the usefulness of ECMWF soil moisture forecasts as a source of information to farmers and for crop modeling more generally. ZAMG   also compared soil moisture derived from ASCAT with soil moisture from the EPIC crop model and also historical forecasts of ECMWF soil moisture with historical soil moisture from EPIC


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Last edited: 02 June 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

Timeframe

01.03.2012 - 31.08.2013

RESEARCH PARTNERS

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