Global agricultural monitoring and mobile data collection

Jon Nordling of the University of Maryland, College Park, USA, explored ways to utilize F-VGI (Facilitated-Volunteered Geographic Information) ground observation information, remote sensing, and GIS to gain a month-to-month understanding of production crops on a global scale.

Jon Nordling

Jon Nordling

Introduction

Today’s environment is much different from that of about a century ago. A rapidly increasing population and the surge of intensified weather conditions is bringing critical global stresses across a range of systems in the world. Food security is one of the largest of these stresses. Monitoring production of crops at a global scale will increase food security in today’s global market, and undoubtedly create a better understanding of our capacity. This paper defines methods and architectures for global agricultural monitoring and explores ways to utilize F-VGI (Facilitated-Volunteered Geographic Information) ground observation information, remote sensing, and GIS to gain a month-to-month understanding of production crops on a global scale.

Methodology

The methodology used to synthesize crop conditions combines both Earth- and ground-observation information. Coupling remote sensing and crowdsourcing increases the confidence of our understanding of crop conditions at the monthly scale. Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) anomalies, crop distribution, temperature, and rainfall datasets are used as the Earth observation information. The ground observation data provided using a F-VGI crowdsourcing approach provide another layer of information. This information is facilitated based on data about the growing season of the crop; local agriculture experts then report on the conditions of the crops. This approach ensures that the information supplied through remote sensing is validated by the ground observation information and vice versa.

GeoDK logo

To gain a large, frequently collected amount of ground observation information, there was a fundamental need for an accessible geographical data collection platform. The results included the development of the Geographical Open Data Kit (GeoODK), which provides a way to collect and store geo-referenced information, along with a suite of tools to visualize, analyze, and manipulate ground data for specific needs, in this case agriculture. It enables an understanding of the data for decision making, research projects and more. As a multi-dimensional application, GeoODK’s goal is to provide an open-source platform that can be expanded to address the current and future needs of data collection. The application is completely open-source and aims to combine mobile data collection technologies, remote sensing, and GIS as one integrated system.

Conclusions

Agricultural transparency is very important in today’s world. Having a real understanding of crop conditions is going to help the global market adapt to the many dynamic challenges ahead. Specifically monitoring the production of crops at a global scale will increase food security to places where lands are not as productive. As we gain better understanding of agricultural conditions, this can trigger important global market trades and influence political decision making. The positive impacts go much deeper than the interface and implementation, contributing, in fact, to global needs.

Note

Jon Nordling of the University of Maryland, College Park, USA, is a US citizen. He was funded by IIASA’s US National Member Organization and worked in the Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM) Program during the YSSP.

Supervisors

Ian McCallum and Steffen Fritz, Ecosystems Services and Management, IIASA

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.


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Last edited: 29 September 2015

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