Agriculture is critical to the future of sustainable development. Globally the entire sector is being challenged to produce approximately 70% more food to feed 9 billion people by 2050. It has been acknowledged that most of this increase will need to come from greater land and water productivity as well as expansion of arable and irrigated areas. However, currently, agriculture consumes 70% of global freshwater, and emits about a quarter of all global greenhouse gases. Some of the current farming practices have negative consequences on water quality, and they impact biodiversity through land clearing and habitat fragmentation. Commodities production has been identified as one of the key causes of deforestation worldwide. Therefore the central question on the future of global sustainable development is how this vast increase in food and agriculture commodities supply can be achieved in a sustainable way.
Since 2008 the European Space Agency (ESA) has worked closely with Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and their Client States to harness the benefits of Earth Observation (EO) in global sustainable development. Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) is a new ESA initiative which aims at increasing the uptake of EO-based information in regular development operations at national and international level.
EO4SD - Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster project - aims at demonstrating the benefits of EO-based geo-information products and services to support agricultural monitoring and management tasks: MDBs programmes and projects that deal with land degradation, soil erosion, food security and irrigation systems management.
Specifically, the main objective of the project is to demonstrate that the effectiveness of the MDB’s technical assistance interventions and financial investments in agriculture sector can be measurably enhanced by using EO-derived information to support:;
- Large-scale crop area and type estimate (i.e. crop cover mapping and status assessment)
- Irrigation and irrigation systems management (i.e. energy balance, water productivity and water stress)
- Agriculture productivity assessment (i.e. yield estimation, ground water, precipitation monitoring)
- Rural infrastructure investments planning and monitoring (i.e. households and transport networks mapping)
- Land Degradation Assessment (i.e. land use, rainfall, soil moisture, precipitation, fAPAR, NDVI indicators)
- Ecosystem services assessment (i.e. water quality assessment, nitrogen content, land surface properties)
- Environmental Impact Assessment (i.e. landscape level classification and change mapping including fragmentation, and agriculture commodities production impact on deforestation)
The portfolio provides a list of the state-of-the-art EO-based information services available to support agricultural monitoring and management. Please refer to the complete portfolio brochure to learn more about the services, their technical specifications and the application areas.