May 12, 2017

The South African National Space Agency has developed a system to monitor crops

The Earth Observation (EO) Directorate of the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) has developed an advanced crop-monitoring system for South Africa that will also be made available to other African countries, in due course. “We are able to monitor their [the crops’] condition through time,” Sansa EO acting MD Dr Paida Mangara told the thirty-seventh International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment (ISRSE) in Pretoria.

Estimated Article Reading Time: 1 min.

“We want to implement it throughout the African region through our cooperation with Nepad,” he told Engineering News Online. “Currently, there are five countries which will pilot the system. We are developing the implementation plan, starting with these five countries.” Their names will be released at a later date, jointly with Nepad.

Resource management and the environment form a major focus area for Sansa, and the crop-monitoring programme is in line with the agency’s strategic aim of maximising space science and technology for socioeconomic benefit. A top priority is the provision of space-based data, products and services.

“We have to transform Terabytes of EO data into understandable and useable information,” he highlighted at ISRSE. “That is where our key focus is, at the moment.” To this end, Sansa has its own EO data centre, and the agency is looking at developing a high performance computing centre for EO.

Currently, there is no problem with access to most space-based data, especially medium-resolution imagery. Much of this is now available for free. “Where we have challenges are areas in which high resolution [imagery] is required,” he stated. High resolution means a resolution of less than 1 m; this has to be paid for.

South Africa’s next satellite, EOSat-1, will have a maximum resolution of about 2.5 m. “Its primary mission is food security – agricultural crop and grazing lands monitoring,” he explained to Engineering News Online. “The secondary mission is to track land use – land cover monitoring, looking at built-up environments (settlements, urban areas in general), different land-use types, and also monitoring vegetation, soils and water. A third mission is disaster management. We aim to complete the flight model EOSat-1 in the 2019/20 period.

Source