With its launch in 2015, we were all called to action by the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). At the time, 17 goals were defined to achieve a better and more sustainable future. In this article we will highlight the efforts that have been made for the second SDG, called “No Hunger”.
A key element in ending hunger and malnutrition, is to provide a sustainable food production. Because of the growing global population, we are currently experiencing a pressure on the sustainability of agriculture on a level where providing food security is critical. The following paragraphs describe how this challenge can be supported by the use of Earth Observation data and Remote Sensing techniques. To demonstrate the possibilities, the NextGEOSS Food Security pilot will be used as an example. This pilot is built to facilitate crop management and decision making processes to create a stable and continuous food production on both a local and global scale.
In order to support the SDG, VITO has created a crop monitoring pilot, called Food Security, that addresses the needs of the agricultural community. This is done by providing a platform that can be used to harvest information based on Earth Observation datasets. The available information allows users to follow up crop developments on field level. This means users are able to define their own fields and get real-time information on the status and health of their crops. Because we are working with global datasets, this method can be applied to any location on the planet. This allows decision makers, being on a local, governmental or international level, to get the correct information and a clear overview of the food production in critical areas.
Due to the requirement for having detailed information on a large scale, the pilot is combining Earth Observation data with Remote Sensing techniques. For the NextGEOSS pilots, the Copernicus Sentinel 2 mission is used as the base for extracting information. Using the NextGEOSS services, the Sentinel 2 data is downloaded through the NextGEOSS datahub and processed on the NextGEOSS platform. This resulted in a processing workflow creating biophysical indicators based on the Sentinel 2 data. These indicators provide crucial information about the status and health of crops, such as the leaf area coverage, the amount of photosynthetic activity, and more.
The pilot will continue to exploit the available data. By applying phenology algorithms to the biophysical indicators, additional information, such as the start of the season, the time to harvest the field and the end of the season is extracted. These parameters are important in creating a clear overview of the food production processes and making sure it becomes and stays sustainable.
As a final step, the pilot exposes all the information through a web application, which will become publicly available and exploitable. These community portals will allow users, such as farmers, governments, and others, to create their own areas of interest and get detailed information about the crop status, -health and different stages within the growing season. By visually comparing the information, farmers can easily spot inconsistencies in their field and for example rethink their fertilizing or irrigation strategies. Thanks to the time series graphs, a more general, compact overview of the field performance throughout the season is available, allowing users to spot fields that will need more attention.
To summarize, there are a lot of challenges to overcome for sustaining a global food production. It all starts with getting a full and correct view of the current situation. With the NextGEOSS Food Security pilot we are creating a foundation for an open portal that allows users to follow up their food production processes on both a small and large scale. By making this information publicly exploitable, we aim to create an impact on several levels of our society with the ultimate goal to build a sustainable food production for everyone on this planet to enjoy.
Bram Janssen works as an IT architect at VITO. Within the Remote Sensing department he works as the technical lead for all user application. This means he coordinates the design, build and testing of user applications, mainly in agricultural contexts. In NextGEOSS, Bram is responsible for the coordination of all innovation related pilot applications. He is also the lead of two pilot applications that are part of the NextGEOSS project. Bram’s expertise lies in IT infrastructure and the technical design and implementation of user applications. He has a strong interest in combining this knowledge with other domains such as Earth Observation and is always keen on learning something new. Bram holds a Masters of IT in Human Computer Interaction.
Sign up for the NextGEOSS webinar “Supporting Food Security from Space” Wednesday 27th February, 14:00 CET