Use of Satellite

South Africa advances new earth observation satellite

Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor reported recently that the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) had made significant progress in developing the country’s next earth observation (EO) satellite. She was giving the keynote address at the opening of the 37th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of the Environment at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in Pretoria.

“Sansa is in the final stages of the development of an optical EO satellite to support food security and disaster management across the continent,” she said. “The optical satellite is a key part of South Africa’s contribution to a broader continental effort to leverage the potential of space for development. Sansa and other South African science-based organisations are primed to support the African space programme.”



Use of NDVI

Relations between NDVI, Grassland Production, and Crop Yield in the Central Great Plains

Satellite remote sensing of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) provides a means for characterizing landscape level patterns of net primary productivity (NPP). Within the Great Plains, landscapes are dominated by grassland and agricultural ecosystems. We demonstrated that NDVI integrated over time is an excellent measure of prevailing patterns of NPP, which can be measured as biomass production in local‐scale native grasslands (tallgrass prairie), as well as landscape and regional scale yield of corn and wheat. Within the growing season, the temporal pattern of grassland biomass production covaries with NDVI, with a four‐week lag time. Across years, grassland biomass production covaries with NDVI integrated over appropriate time intervals, which can range from part to all of the current growing season. For calculation of landscape patterns of crop production, regional maps (masks) for corn and wheat field identification can be constructed by analysis of temporal patterns of NDVI. Calculation windows that average NDVI for adjacent pixels can enhance the ability to predict local NPP.

Use of Drones

South African Precision Farming Data and Drones Start-Up Aerobotics Will Use Recent Investment to Scale Up

Until recently, the public profile of drones in Africa has largely been NGO-focused drone delivery. However below the surface drones are making inroads in areas as diverse as archaeology and oil. This week Russell Southwood talks to Aerobitics COO Andrew Burdock about its plans for drones and data analytics in the agricultural sector.

Aerobotics founders James Paterson and Benji Meltzer went to the same university but did their Masters separately, one choosing drones and the other data analytics. Both came back to South Africa and were searching to find a business idea. They found it in the agricultural sector and Aerobotics bought their two specializations together. They launched the company in 2014.

As part of the precision farming movement, it aims to improve the cost effectiveness of farming through providing the data to track crop health, growth and moisture levels down to individual plants, and to enable farmers to action this data through variable-rate fertilizer maps and yield estimates:”When we started, there were no low cost drones or sensors so we had to build them plus we needed to build the software.”