Unique, scientific and flexible solutions for the agriculture industry

March 25th, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Food security is a growing concern in Africa. Predictions show that climate change will have massive negative impacts on especially maize crops. With half of the population growth between now and 2050 being predicted in Africa we have to shift our focus to more efficient and sustainable farming.

GeofarmSA, a subsidiary of geospatial solutions company GeoSpace International, provides farmers with a solution in which satellite, weather, ground sensor and personal spatial data are combined into a single online portal to ensure better, pro-active decision making. The service gives farmers the ability to monitor farming practices using custom developed algorithms for unique conditions to maximise production.

Fig. 1: Aerial imagery showing the colour infrared view on the right, which can be used to assess crop health.

GeofarmSA is an agri-tech company specialising in providing farmers, agricultural enterprises, insurers and governments with scientifically-based solutions to improve production on farms and the management of agriculture as a whole in the country. Its online portal integrates satellite, weather, ground sensor and personnel spatial data to improve and maximise production. The company also prides itself that its data is the most accurate and reliable as it bases all its work on scientific principles.

Farmers are provided with a range of different satellite imagery ranging from 10 m resolution imagery every five days to 0,8 m resolution every day. All GeofarmSA products by default has access to satellite imagery which is updated every five days. Custom and unique algorithms for South African crops and conditions are used to analyse this data and display it in the form of maps and graphs. An emphasis is placed on the quantification of data to eliminate any interpretation errors. This increases the accuracy and reliability of the data.

Weather plays a very important role in agriculture and GeofarmSA understands that to monitor crops you need to understand weather patterns and and predictions. Its products therefore combines real-time data measured by satellites and weather radars as well as employs simulated weather data models for prediction purposes. Furthermore, weather stations on the ground can be installed for real-time weather monitoring.

Because the company bases all of its research and development on the scientific principles of agriculture, GeofarmSA realises that satellite data and ground sensor data cannot be considered in isolation, and that it should be combined to improve the accuracy and reliability of data. The company can also provide a range of different ground sensors to be installed on farms. It constantly looks at the correlation between satellites and ground sensor measures to calibrate its satellite data.

In combination with satellite, ground sensor and weather data GeofarmSA also provides tools for farmers to capture their own spatial data. This gives the farmers the ability to build their own database on when they planted, what fertiliser they used and other such data for future reference. Identifying trends from this data can be very beneficial to increase production.

GeofarmSA constantly invests in research, innovation and development to ensure the credibility and reliability of its product. Currently, its research is focused on three main goals: Firstly, to develop a method of large scale crops identification using satellite imagery without reference parcels. Secondly, to study crop stress caused by weather anomalies like hail, frost and changing rainfall patterns. The effects of climate change will especially affect maize crops and understanding how crops react to this will give farmers and agricultural enterprises the ability to pro-actively plan for the future. Lastly, the company is developing algorithms to estimate crop yield by only using satellite imagery. This will give all parties from the government to farmers the ability to predict yield every five days during a season.

GeofarmSA’s slogan says it all: Unique, scientific and flexible solutions for the agriculture industry. It integrates intelligence to maximise production on farms, minimise input cost and to create a better environment for sustainable farming.

Contact Jaun van Loggerenberg, Geospace, jaun@geospace.co.za

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