Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Building capacity for geographic information systems in agriculture

The Geospatial Science and Modelling (GSM) cluster of the Sustainable Impact Platform recently conducted a 5-day training on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as applied to agriculture, particularly to rice  research.

GIS techniques and related Earth observing  technologies  - Remote Sensing (RS), Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs or drones) - are  used for a variety of applications, including crop monitoring, modeling and forecasting, and damage assessment, making them key tools for increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability. 

Held last 12-16 August 2019 at Network Commons, IRRI HQ, the training was attended by 17 participants from the Philippine Department of Agriculture, Assam State University, and staff of IRRI-India Odisha office and IRRI-HQ.  The objectives were for the participants to learn basic GIS techniques,  acquire skills in geospatial analysis, and apply the learnings in their research agenda.

The training was designed for complete beginners, or for those wanting to refresh their GIS skills with a comprehensive ‘step-by-step’ introduction, from collecting georeferenced field data using GNSS and drone, to creating, importing, visualizing, and analysing spatial data using open-source GIS software package QGIS. Actual spatial data from ongoing rice research were utilized in the analysis section, where participants had to assess the accuracy of rice maps derived from remote sensing images, perform cropping intensity analysis, and assess flood damage on rice.

Overall, the training was received very well, with participant Jasbir Singh remarking that “this training fulfilled my expectation. The course objective is clear.” The training was led by IRRI senior associate scientist Arnel Rala, with Aileen Maunahan and Cornelia Garcia. Emmali Manalo, Jorrel Aunario, and Rosendo Gutierrez providing logistical and administrative support.

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