Webinar On Smart Farming Tech In Africa: Key Takeaways
Learn the key takeaways from the webinar on precision agriculture improving livelihoods and increasing yields in Africa, hosted jointly by EOS Data Analytics and Agroxchange Technology.
We all know that Mother Nature can be unforgiving, but farmers are the ones who have to deal with her temper on a daily basis. Winter kill, heat stress, cold stress, and finding the perfect timing for both sowing and harvesting like thousands of years ago, are hugely important factors in modern agriculture. A farmer has to know exactly when and how to apply fertilizers, when to sow, and when to harvest. Crop Monitoring has been specifically designed with these issues in mind. Our weather analytics tab is to inform the farmer not just about current weather conditions, but also about the possible risks, growth stages of crops, vegetation indices value, historical weather, and to create a forecast for the near future.
For convenience, we have divided weather monitoring into four different modes of view.
There’s a current weather menu with its temperature, humidity and cloud levels, wind speed, and precipitation. Next, there are weather charts with the vegetation indices, the tell-tale signs of how the weather conditions influence the health of your crops. The two remaining modes are historical weather data (available only for pro users) and forecasts.
The most basic and relevant type of weather analytics you can gather using our software is current weather. To check it out, you don’t need to open the weather analytics tab. In the Fields tab, click on the field you want to find out about. In the right menu pane you will see the field’s name on top, and right below it will be the crop rotation data. And just below that is Weather Today. Here, you can see the current temperature, date, and cloud cover state displayed.
To go more detail about current weather, you can access the drop-down menu on the top right.
Wind speed, humidity, cloud coverage, and precipitation levels are displayed in the drop-down menu.
You can switch between two measurement systems in settings, these are Metric and Imperial.
Click on the little arrow in the Unit System bar.
In the drop-down menu, select between the Metric and Imperial systems.
And then there’s the magic “Forecast” button which will automatically take you to the Weather analytics tab. But we are getting ahead of ourselves here.
A single click on this button will take you here:
There is no reason to panic, to get back to the Weather Today menu, either click the return (back) button in your browser or the Fields icon at the top of the tabs list on the right.
Tip: To switch between different tabs, hover your mouse arrow over the icons on the right. You will be able to read the names only while hovering over them. They go as follows, from top to bottom:
As soon as you begin to associate the icons with their corresponding names, navigation will become super easy.
Now this is where space technology really comes in handy. Along with analyzing the weather, our satellites monitor the vegetation levels. In short, using different wavelengths of red and NIR (Near InfraRed), they can identify the state of health for different crops, as well as any changes over time.
The five types of spectral indices available in our software include:
You’ve probably noticed the word “Difference” used in the names of at least two of the indices and that is no accident. In short, satellites are capable of differentiating between vegetation and non-vegetation. Sometimes, calculating the difference between two frequencies of wavelengths can give you valuable insight about vegetation growth. You can find out more about it in our article about Zoning.
While still in the Fields tab, if you have your field open, look at the bottom of the screen; there you will find a chart. That chart can tell you a lot of important information about the state of your crops and weather conditions, such as the minimum and maximum temperatures over a certain period of time, as well as the changes in the vegetation indices. You can’t miss the chart, since it takes up about half of the screen:
At first glance, the chart may look a bit complicated, overwhelming, and confusing. Color is the key to it all. Every curve has a distinct color with a corresponding legend, according to the type of data that is being displayed. For example, “2019/2020” stands for changes in the vegetation index over the stated year, while the “Min air temperature” pretty much speaks for itself.
Click on any of the legends and you will see it go gray. Basically, it means this curve is now disabled and will not be displayed until it has been reenabled. Some other conditions, such as the temperature scale on the right might also change in response to turning various data on and off.
In this example, the temperature scale’s upper limit has dropped from 40 to 20 degrees, because of the maximum air temperature. On the left, you can set the starting and ending dates to see the data for a certain period of time. And a little below, is the Weather Data drop-down menu which allows you to choose between
What about the vegetation indices? In this particular example, you can see five annual/seasonal cycles of vegetation growth and withering. In other words, to see the five years of change, you are going to need a total of five curves.
Note: You can choose between four different vegetation indices in the drop-down menu on the top left.
Now that you have made sense of all of those curves on the chart, let’s take a closer look at Growth Stages. In the illustration below, eight stages are displayed on the chart. They are identifiable by an icon within a circle, altogether resembling a plant leaf. Dashed vertical rays project from the circles, intersecting with the curves on the chart at right angles. It is a good idea to always have growth stages present on the chart, to see their correlation with the vegetation indices and weather.
Finally, it’s time to visit our special Weather Analytics tab. If you had already been curious enough to click on “Forecast” in the Weather Today menu, you’ve definitely been here before. But the Forecast pane is only half of the picture. Let’s start with the Historical Weather, instead.
We have chosen a cloud icon to represent the weather tab. Here you can find definitive data about the history of temperatures and precipitation level fluctuations in the area of your field, a.k.a. Historical Weather. When you have reviewed the past, you can then turn to the nearest future weather forecast. But first things first.
The Historical weather tab offers you four different charts, they are grouped according to the type of data:
And according to time:
Daily data allows you to see every detail and thusly compare how temperatures and precipitation rates on your field change from day to day; while the accumulated precipitation and sum of active temperatures will give you insights about the climate of the area.
You may choose between two modes of view:
If you don’t see the orange curve along with the legend that says “5 Years Average,” you are likely to have it set on “None.”
Getting access to these four charts is super easy. Just select a field and click on the cloud icon to the right. You will get the detailed weather analytics in no time. Additionally, you should be able to see growth stages displayed on every chart.
Note: growth stages currently appear only for particular crops in four countries, as follows:
|Spring barley||Spring barley||Spring barley||Spring barley|
|Winter rapeseed||Winter rapeseed||Winter rapeseed||Winter rapeseed|
|Winter wheat||Winter wheat||Winter wheat||Winter wheat|
The importance of Weather Analytics for the process of crop monitoring cannot be overestimated. The planning of any kind of farming activity, from sowing to irrigation, requires accurate data about temperatures and soil moisture (precipitation rates). Assisting the farmer with avoiding as many weather-related risks as possible is our prerogative at Crop Monitoring. We want farmers to be the weather historians of their own fields, to manage their crops with maximum efficiency. As Carl Sagan once said, “you have to know the past, to know the present.”
And now back to the future! Predicting weather is especially relevant in regard to the climate becoming more unreliable worldwide. We offer a digital solution to the problem of forecasting wind (speed and direction), possible precipitation, humidity, and cloud coverage levels. This is a powerful tool, a digital scout with supernatural abilities helping the farmer to plan crucial activities as accurately as possible, thus ensuring better yields.
While weather analytics may seem as a tangled ball of yarn at first, it is quite easy to untangle. It will only take you several clicks to switch from chart to chart to see:
You can imagine this feature as a key to a box full of Nature’s secrets, with its vegetation indices, growth stages, accumulated precipitation, sum of active temperatures, and more, whether it be in the past, present, or future.