• Using GPS and GIS - the principle


    Modern agricultural mapping technology is one of the key elements in the implementation of efforts to reduce poverty and to monitor agricultural activities in developing countries. Remote sensing technology in the form of multi spectral satellite imagery, geographical positioning systems (GPS) and digital aerial photography has improved dramatically in recent years and forms the foundation of geographical information systems (GIS).

    GIS and remote sensing, in combination with geographical positioning systems, are the instruments that are being used to measure and audit agricultural activities. The importance of mapping agricultural activities in developing countries is firstly to assist in monitoring and calculating agricultural activities on an ongoing basis. Secondly, land use and land management forms an integral part of agricultural development but this process can only be successfully managed using GIS and updated remote sensing technology.

    If you cannot measure it you cannot manage it… 

    Using GIS as part of the mapping process assists in the creation of spatial models that indicate the most viable agricultural activities in particular areas. This in turn enables authorities to improve infrastructure around viable agricultural activities whereas GIS web map capabilities can be used as a marketing tool to encourage investment and create agricultural concession areas. Finally, GIS platforms to monitor agricultural activities, land use and land management enable both governments and the donor community to plan ahead in the fight against poverty.

    Interestingly, in mid-2005 the Brazilian government announced it would start combining information from satellite imagery with data collected regularly from a large number of ground stations in an attempt to reduce the margin of error in coffee crop estimates. Work on this project started in 2003 - apart from coffee, satellite imagery will assist also in the collection of information on soya, maize, rice, sugar cane, citrus, wheat and cotton crops. Counting the national cattle herd is another option.


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