Mar 18, 2016

Improving farm and water management with DMC constellation

In 2011, eLEAF received funding from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, Hortgro and ESA to start the FruitLook project. The purpose of this project is to provide farmers with an improved knowledge of water and crop management for fruit and wine producing areas of the Western Cape.

Estimated Article Reading Time: 1 min.

Targeting fruit and wine grape growers, FruitLook’s objective is to deliver satellite imagery-based information directly to the farmers responsible for crop management, through an open online portal.

In order to meet their own objectives, FruitLook required an operational service that was reliable in terms of data quality and delivery. The need for cloud free optical data required working with a company being able to make several recordings a week of the area.

The only constellation in the market able to provide high quality data and a regularity of 22m resolution imagery that could meet their needs was the DMC constellation from Airbus Defence and Space.

FruitLook is an open online platform to monitor vineyards and orchards in the Western Cape of South Africa, building on satellite imagery and weather information. FruitLook provides farmers weekly insights in crop production and water use during the growth season.

A better informed farmer makes better decisions in farm resource management, which eventually leads to more efficient water use on their farm. As FruitLook is accessible to almost every fruit and wine grape farmer in the Western Cape it has the potential to improve water use efficiency at an unprecedented scale.

Solution and Results

Since 2011 the DMC Constellation has delivered to FruitLook: imagery on a regular basis data, the possibility to plan new acquisitions to avoid cloud cover, good communication with the operations team, and 22m resolution data to capture in-field variation in productivity.

eLEAF uses 22m data acquired weekly from the DMC Constellation over the 35 week growing period. They then use this data together with other data sources and SEBAL technology (Surface Energy Balance Algorithm for Land), to produce data components containing information regarding the moisture, growth, and minerals of each crop. These data components are delivered on a weekly basis.

This information can then be seen by the farmers in the FruitLook portal in order to assess the vegetation index (NDVI), biomass production, actual water use (evapotranspiration) and water productivity.

With the correct training and weekly updates, they are able to identify problems with their irrigation systems, improve their disease management and in general make better decisions on block management.

As a result, users reported increase in water use efficiency of 10 to 30% thanks to the efforts of FruitLook and the contributing data providers.