The beneficiaries of this training, provided by FutureWater together with Solidaridad, belong to the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI).
ZARI is a department within the Ministry of Agriculture of Zambia with the overall objective to provide a high quality, appropriate and cost-effective service to farmers, generating and adapting crop, soil and plant protection technologies. This department comprises a number of sections, one of which, for the purpose of this training request is the Soil and Water Management (SWM) division. ZARI and the SWM carry out demand-driven research, trying to find solutions to the problems faced by Zambian small-scale farmers, especially considering the near- and long-term impacts of climate change.
The training programme consists of a hybrid approach of e-learning and in-person training sessions and is structured around the following modules:
  1. Remote sensing-based analysis using Google Earth Engine to assess trends in land use, management, degradation and hotspots for intervention.
  2. Data collection and database management.
  3. GIS and remote sensing to assess suitability for SWC.
  4. Effectiveness and prioritization of SWC using open-source tools.
  5. Independent working on case study.
At the end of the training, it is expected that participants have achieved several objectives such as acquisition of technical skills for extracting relevant data from open access remote sensing products and improved knowledge of data collection and database management.

Last week, first module of the Nuffic TMT training course on Geo-spatial data skills development was kicked-off at Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI). 

Solidaridad is partnering with FutureWater to conduct a tailor-made training on ‘Geo-spatial data skills development for improved soil water
management and enhanced crop productivity at the national level in Zambia’.

The training project for ZARI is a Tailor-Made Training (TMT), as part of the Orange Knowledge Programme, funded by Nuffic and will enhance capacity in accessing and using innovative data and tools in the public domain, to analyse crop performance and improve soil water management.

This first module was focused on the use of Google Earth Engine (GEE).

The objective of this module was to build capacity of the participants in using the basic functionalities of GEE, by working on applications specifically relevant for land use management and identification of degradation hotspots. This objective has been achieved by participants by obtaining hands-on experience in script-building and interpretation of outcomes.

The first module has been conducted by:

And the rest of modules will take place during the incoming months, following the training project.

Introduction in classroom
Trainers and participants

InfoSequia is the Drought Early Warning and Forecasting System developed by FutureWater to support the decision-making and risk management of drought impacts. InfoSequia rests on an advanced cloud computing and geoprocessing architecture able to effectively integrate large volume of data from satellite, reanalysis and ground-observation networks, with machine learning techniques to generate local-tailored seasonal outlooks of drought risk failures at the river basin and agricultural district levels.

InfoSequia has been recently and effectively integrated into the TWIGA geoportal, a platform that offers to African users the possibility for accessing data from ground-observation networks, and climate or agro- services with monitoring and forecasting capabilities.

The new and enhanced InfoSequia indices and products are operationally delivered for the Inkomati River Basin, a transboundary basin which extends through South Africa, Eswatini and Mozambique.

This lite service includes a full suite of 3 dekad-based (10-days) meteorological drought indices and 3 dekad-based vegetative health indices, all of them timescale aggregated at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months, and updated every month. The service is easily scalable and user-tailored to other regions of Africa upon request and agreement with FutureWater. Thanks to the advanced front-end capabilities of the TWIGA portal, users can easily access InfoSequia data and incorporate them into dashboards specifically set up according to their information needs.

A video was made to highlight how InfoSequía has been implemented, watch it here:

More information about the FutureWater’s approach on Water Scarcity and Drought can be found here.

 

One-pager brochure of InfoSequia-TWIGA for Africa. Downloadable as PDF here.

 

The study will focus on selection of key traded crops between the EU and Africa and their key producing regions. The tasks will include overall analysis of current practices and the background in the regions, determination of key sensitive parameters in order to select key crops and food products and map hotspot regions. In addition, project team will assess climate risks for these hotspots on key crops and food products and link these risks with the importing countries. Climate risks will be assessed by identifying the multiple climate sensitivities on the food systems in each region, assessing changes predicted by a CMIP6 (latest) climate model ensemble on key agriculture-related climate indices, and analysing impacts on production-related indices, distinguishing between rainfed and irrigated production systems. It will be focused on country specific case studies in each partner country. The impacts of climate change on trade patterns will be evaluated to assess the carbon- and water footprints and virtual water profiles of key traded commodities of these countries. At the end, the project team will focus on policy relevance and assessment of adaptation strategies and identify interventions that will be needed, at which point in the system, and from which sector (or actor) is of interest.

The outcomes of CREATE will be used to increase awareness of the risks that climate change poses to the agro-food trade and the broader economy at large. They can contribute to efforts by the governments (macro-scale), the communities (meso-scale), as well as relevant agricultural producers (micro scale) in the case study countries, by providing essential information for promoting actions towards mitigating the negative consequences of climate change on agro-food trade.

Frost damage has been a frequent hazard for fruit growers in the Netherlands, getting worse with shifts in the growing season due to climate change. Wind machines can be a more sustainable alternative than sprinkling freshwater for frost protection, especially in regions where freshwater is limited or too brackish.

Last spring, FutureWater and HiView conducted flying sensor flights equipped with a thermal camera to map the temperature effects of wind machines for protecting fruit orchards against frost damage. The work was done in a larger research project with TUDelft aiming at capturing the effect of the wind machines on fruit frost protection at a fruit grower in Krabbedijke, the Netherlands. Read more about this project here.

A video was made to give an impression of the flying sensor activities, watch it here:

FutureWater, with TWIGA project partners HiView, Hydrologic and UFZ Helmholtz, have developed the farm extension service ‘MapYourCrop’. The MapYourCrop service uses drones, or flying sensors, to collect crop information with an unprecedented level of detail. What makes MapYourCrop unique is that flying sensor data is enriched with detailed crop status information collected by the smartphone app called ‘VegMon’.

After making the flying sensor crop stress maps, the VegMon app is used to zoom in to problem areas. Based on measurements, visual inspection, photographic evidence, and expert knowledge, the crop stress is identified and recorded with the app and a farm management advice is developed. The final advice is provided using the TWIGA platform. The farmer can choose to receive the advice in-person or electronically. MapYourCrop is currently tested by Mozambican drone and extension company. The company has a team of farm extension officers that are professionally trained as drone operators and have all the tools and knowledge to give advice to improve farming practices.

A video was made to highlight how MapYourCrop has been implemented, watch it here:

FutureWater has undertaken a Climate Risk and Adaptation assessment (CRA), commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), for two solar power plant and one wind farm projects in Bhutan. The goal of the ADB project ‘Renewable Energy for Climate Resilience’ in Bhutan is to diversify Bhutan’s energy portfolio. The expectation is that climate change impacts on the cryosphere and hydrology in Bhutan will lead to less reliable flows, particularly outside the monsoon season. This will make hydropower a less reliable source of energy, which may not be sufficient during the dry season.

Results from the CRA indicate that these assumptions are likely correct: future scenarios of climate change and hydrological changes project more erratic flows, meaning on one hand more extremes on the high end (floods), posing risks for hydropower infrastructure, but also through increasing sediment loads and risks of exposure to landslides and glacier lake outburst floods. On the other hand, a small increase in frequency and length of hydrological droughts is projected. Furthermore, projections of wind speed and incoming solar radiation indicate stable conditions compared to the present-day climate, further substantiating the rationale for portfolio diversification.

Read more about the project here.

Next week the Nuffic TMT training will start on ‘Climate smart irrigation strategies to improve salinity control and enhance agricultural production in Iraq’, provided by FutureWater and Wageningen University, in collaboration with Basra University. The training, using the FutureWater Moodle School, is aimed at building capacity of participants in accessing and using innovative public-domain data, tools, and models to analyse water resources to support climate-smart irrigation strategies. The training is structured around 3 training modules tailored around different tools for gaining insight into salinity issues, improving salinity control, and enhancing agricultural production in Iraq:

  1. Google Earth Engine: Geospatial mapping for water resources and agricultural applications using remote sensing and cloud computing
  2. SWAP modeling: Soil-water-plant modeling to determine optimal irrigation water allocations to control water tables and soil salinity
  3. ReWas toolbox: Crop water productivity options to achieve real water savings in irrigated agriculture.

We are looking forward to starting this training and hope to strengthen the collaboration and vibrant partnerships between Dutch and Iraqi institutions in the fields of water management, agriculture, and education!

This MIT feasibility project investigates the opportunities of an innovation project for determining the biomass potential from local nature management and green maintenance using the publicly available Lidar point cloud of the Netherlands.

The results of this feasibility project may lead to an innovative logistics support service where producers and consumers who play a role in the local biomass chain (e.g. nature management organizations, regional governments, energy producers) are provided advice and insight in the stock and availability of local woody biomass suitable for district heating projects or other local energy projects and biobased applications.

In the planned development path, a prototype of this service will be developed, demonstrated, tested, and validated for a pilot area. Using segmentation and classification algorithms, individual trees will be identified and tree-specific parameters relevant to biomass determination will be extracted. The economic perspective and market potential will also be investigated and relevant literature will be reviewed.

With a total annual turnover of approximately 500 million euros, the Netherlands is a major player in the production, import and export of fruits. In spring, when the night temperature drops below freezing point and fruit trees are flowering, fruit growers must protect their crops. If the flower buds were to freeze then no fruit is formed, resulting in enormous economic losses. Protecting the buds is usually done with the help of water, which requires an average of 30 m3 of water per hectare per hour. If several nights of frost occur the limit on water availability can be reached quickly. Moreover, if the quality of the water is not sufficient (e.g. due to salinity), the water can also cause damage to the crops. As a result, about 30% of the fruit companies in the Netherlands cannot use water for frost protection.

As an alternative to using water, wind machines to protect fruit trees against frost is emerging as a promising new and innovative technique. The propeller of the wind machine mixes the cold air with the higher, warmer air and can thus raise the temperature on the ground by several degrees. This feasibility project explores the opportunities of an innovation project for monitoring the effectiveness of wind machines for frost protection in fruit cultivation using flying sensors (drones) equipped with a thermal thermal imager. The results of this feasibility project may lead to an innovative information service intended for fruit growers to:

  1. Provide insight into the effectiveness of wind machines for frost protection as a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to spraying water. This service can target growers who already use wind machines and want to know how effective wind machines provide protection against night frost, but also growers who are considering wind machines and want to know to what extent the application can be suitable for their field.
  2. Advise how the application of wind machines can be optimized in the business operations of fruit companies. This includes optimal placement of the wind machine in the orchard and whether the wind machine is properly adjusted for the type of fruit being grown. This relies on what rotational speeds are needed for a given temperature increase, at what angle the propeller should be aimed, etc.)

A prototype of this service will be developed and demonstrated for a pilot area through a development process. An important part of the development trajectory is research into and development of a:

  1. State-of-art interactive visualization tool to visualize spatial information within a
  2. (beta) web application such as a dashboard to offer the innovative information service to the end user (fruit grower).

The power of flying sensors with thermal imaging cameras is that the temperature-increasing effect of wind machines can be measured very precisely and can also be mapped spatially. This visual information can provide the fruit grower with insight and confidence that wind machines are effective for frost protection.