For each FMU that is selected for survey, it is important to collect general information about it. This information is normally collected once; usually at the beginning of the cropping season or field campaign. A form can be designed for collecting such data. Examples from the STARS project can be found here (coming soon). Some of the data will require the attention of the farmer. It is always advisable to identify and interview the owner of the FMU you intend surveying. Farm characteristics that are worth recording include:
- Personal details of farmer: write down the personal details (e.g., name, age, etc.) of the owner of the FMU
- Geographical location: The coordinates of each FMU must be determined using a Global Positioning System (GPS) device or similar. Ideally, coordinates of the corners of the FMU should be mapped to permit the delineation of its boundaries.
- Crop(s) cultivated: The crop(s) cultivated in the FMU must be noted. In areas where intercropping is done, it is normal to have multiple crops cultivated on one FMU
- Cropping system: this will normally be answered by the owner of the FMU, especially during early stages of the season when crops have not been cultivated yet. At late season, it is possible to hazard a guess; but definitely not at early season.
- Historical land use: Where possible, it is important to know what the FMU has been used for, for the past say, 10 years. This information could be useful in future analysis of historical images and better understand land use dynamics in your area of interest
- Land tenure: ownership regime
- Landform/slope: write notes about the landform and visually/instrumentally assess slope of the FMU. This information could be useful in, for example, stratifying your study area into similar regions for analysis.
- Accessibility: note the ease or difficulty with which one can get to the FMU
It must be stated that the above is not an exhaustive list of farm characteristic. Nonetheless, covering this list in a farm survey is highly recommended.