Tomorrow’s challenge of doubling food supply to feed a growing global population puts sustainability of agriculture and aquaculture on a level with ensuring food security. Efficient use of water, reduction of soil degradation, minimization of energy input and maximization of high quality yields under unstable natural conditions are the goal. They pose high requirements on the underlying information and knowledge infrastructure and make future farming a knowledge business as well as a sophisticated management task. To support future sustainable and efficient farming and aquaculture, the Food Security TEP (FS-TEP) addresses the specific needs for Earth Observation (EO) information of the heterogeneous user community contributing to food security.
EO information is a major component of understanding and managing the global food production both on the local field scale as well as on the global and national scale. At the moment, various portals like the Copernicus Land Monitoring Services as well as some targeted information services provide important information products to the food security user community. Yet to support a sustainable intensification of the global food production system, the Food Security TEP aims at providing services which are able to cover both regional scale (country- or continental-wide) and local, field scale applications where the full power of Copernicus Sentinel-1 and -2 satellites are required. Examples of customized service applications include crop growth and irrigation monitoring, as well as soil quality assessment and leaf chlorophyll mapping for nutrient management.
Furthermore, the Food Security TEP will allow farmers to access information on their crops while being in the field using a mobile service and scientific and expert users to access cloud resources on the FS-TEP to explore, process, analyse and compare Sentinel data and derived information products.
To focus on developing new functionalities relevant for the food security user community on the platform, the FS-TEP basis is as far as possible building upon existing infrastructure and software. Starting with an existing EO data access and cloud computing platform, core elements from the Forestry TEP as well as specific services of the Proba-V Mission Exploitation Platform and relevant products of the Copernicus Land Monitoring Services are integrated.
For the user, the FS-TEP has three different interfaces with varying offerings and concepts. The FS-TEP Essential services is the basis of the other offers and will allow to access the full functionality of the platform including fast and easy access to EO data (all Sentinel satellites and more), ancillary data and published products, and the tools to explore, analyse and process the data. The FS-TEP Mobile service will allow the visualization of EO information products and their time series and will have basic GIS capabilities designed for easy and intuitive use. The extended and later on commercial FS-TEP Customized services will provide the additional, user-adapted information for monitoring and management of farms as well as restricted data management in a secure environment.
The Food Security TEP builds on a large and heterogeneous user community, spanning from agriculture to aquaculture, from farmers to agricultural industry, from public science to the finance sector, from local and national administration to international development agencies. The different requirements of the various groups might be most evident when governmental bodies, ministries or NGOs are interested in country-wide lumped information on yield and stress conditions, while the private sector is primarily interested in monitoring individual fields or aquaculture plots with time in order to optimize their local measures. This means that data on different spatial scales must be made available in the FS-TEP.
During project duration, three Service Pilots will be developed to support agriculture and aquaculture in both Europe and Africa with tailored EO based information services. These Customized services will include crop growth and crop damage monitoring, , advanced biophysical parameters like leaf chlorophyll and yield predictions to support the increase in efficiency of agricultural production on farm level. A second agricultural and an additional aquacultural Service Pilot will focus directly on applications in Africa and will be further defined based on user requirements collected during the first year of the project.
The consortium developing the Food Security TEP and implementing the pilot services is led by VISTA Remote Sensing in Geosciences GmbH, Germany supported by CGI Italy, VITO NV, Belgium and Hatfield Consultants, Canada.