As agriculture shifts from subsistence to commercial levels in Africa, UAVs will increasingly provide the granularity and agility required to monitor agricultural operations and performance in heterogeneous smallholder conditions, and hence the ability to provide advisories that capitalize on heterogeneity, rather than avoid it. While African smallholders are experts in their own right and pioneers of precision agriculture, value-added information will be needed to help them mitigate the additional risks associated with the adoption of exogenous technologies that are potentially more productive, but typically less robust. This is likely to open many new profitable markets for the UAV industry in Africa beyond its dominant clientele of today, the mining industry. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), along with other world-leading institutions is heralding this new era of decentralized information streams in Mali and Nigeria, generating unprecedented datasets that reveal, in intricate detail, the enormous variability encountered in African cropping systems. Under the auspices of the BMGF-funded STARS project (Spurring a Transformation for Agriculture through Remote Sensing), UAVs and very-high resolution satellite data are used to monitor shifting field boundaries, canopy establishment and height, predict yield outcomes and support the development of rural land tenure and agricultural information services. While automated crop recognition from the air will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future given landscape-level variability in management practices (fertilization, sowing, weeding, etc.) and environmental conditions (soil properties, micro-topography, etc.), UAV technology will help decrease the cost of crop performance monitoring over space and time. Embedded into mobile data streams that also provide ground trothing information such as the STARS ONE app developed by the project, imagery will assist farmers and intermediaries (input suppliers, extension services, harvest aggregators) optimize their businesses and support the development of technologically advanced rural jobs attractive for the growing youth.
|Title of host publication||Proceedings of the Africa Edition of Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture, Durban, South Africa|
|Number of pages||2|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Dec 2015|
|Event||Global forum for innovations in agriculture 2015: African Edition - Durban Exhibition Centre, Durban, South Africa|
Duration: 1 Dec 2015 → 2 Dec 2015
|Conference||Global forum for innovations in agriculture 2015|
|Period||1/12/15 → 2/12/15|