Monitoring crop phenology using a smartphone based near-surface remote sensing approach
Authors: Koen Hufkens, Eli K Melaas, Michael L Mann, Timothy Foster, Francisco Ceballos, Miguel Robles, Berber Kramer
Journal: Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Publication Date: 30 November, 2018
Department of: Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering
Using smartphones to monitor farmers crops
Smallholder farmers underpin food security across Asia and Africa, but are highly exposed to risks posed by extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, and heatwaves. Impacts of extreme weather on agricultural productivity depend on the timing of the event during the crop growth season. Consequently, the ability to monitor field-level variability crop phenology (growth stage) within smallholder agricultural systems is essential for estimating the distributional impacts of extreme weather and targeting local interventions to increase farmers’ adaptive capacity.
An international group of researchers from the University of Manchester, Belgium and United States demonstrated the ability to use crowd-sourced smartphone imagery to monitor winter wheat phenology and identify crop damage caused by extreme weather in northwest India – one of the world’s most important agricultural systems. The researchers show that farmer-reported smartphone images provide detailed and accurate information about the timing of key wheat developmental phases and weather-related crop losses, which cannot be detected through alternative approaches such as satellite remote sensing or national crop surveys. Findings from this research are currently being implemented to develop improved crop insurance products for smallholders in India, using smartphone image analysis to increase the cost-effectiveness and accuracy of yield loss verification.
- Smartphone imagery is able to monitor accurately wheat growth stages
- In-situ imagery provides additional information about crop development compared with satellite remote sensing
- Images can be used to detect crop damage and support implementation of cost-effective insurance for farmers