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05.07.2015

Pre-season training on coordinated field and UAV campaigns organized in Bamako, Mali

From April 20-30, the ISABELA[1] team, STARS[2] operations lead in West Africa organized a training workshop at the ICRISAT-Bamako campus to train Mali and Nigeria team members on coordinated field and UAV[3] measurement campaigns and data processing. Main objectives were to train i) field operators in recording agronomic and field-level information, ii) scientific officers and research technicians in UAV operations (flight planning, flight execution, equipment maintenance, etc.), and iii) back-office operators in the securement and post-processing of field and remote sensing data using CAN-EYE and cloud point processing software. All operations followed standardized protocols, building on learnings from measurement campaigns deployed in Sukumba in 2014.

Alongside ICRISAT-Mali and ICRISAT-Nigeria staff, training participants came from the main STARS-ISABELA collaborators, including: Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), the Center for Dryland Agriculture at Bayero University, Kano (CDA/BUK), the Universite de Sherbrooke (UdeS, Canada), the Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL, Belgium), Mali’s Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER) and Association Malienne d’Eveil au Developpement Durable (AMEDD), as well as private partner MANOBI S.A. (Senegal).

  • STARS-ISABELA pre-season training, ICRISAT-Bamako (Mali).  Standing (L to R): P.C.S. Traore, A. Safia, K. Goita, G. Dembele, D. Sanou, N. Dembele, S. Guindo, M. Badamasi, I.Y. Tudunwada, O. Diabate, H. Peter, A.A. Tukur, S.B. Momale, X. Blaes, S. Nannim Squatting (L to R): S. Guindo, F. Sagounta, N. Dembele, K. Ba, B. Sissoko, T. Dembele, E. Niare, A.H. Inuwa, K. Toure STARS-ISABELA pre-season training, ICRISAT-Bamako (Mali). Standing (L to R): P.C.S. Traore, A. Safia, K. Goita, G. Dembele, D. Sanou, N. Dembele, S. Guindo, M. Badamasi, I.Y. Tudunwada, O. Diabate, H. Peter, A.A. Tukur, S.B. Momale, X. Blaes, S. Nannim Squatting (L to R): S. Guindo, F. Sagounta, N. Dembele, K. Ba, B. Sissoko, T. Dembele, E. Niare, A.H. Inuwa, K. Toure


Practical field exercises were organized on an off-season, irrigated trial conducted by STARS on the ICRISAT Samanko station. This trial aims to develop calibration curves for leaf area index (LAI) estimation from measurements of the fraction of photosynthetically active radiation (fPAR), and relate these to various vegetation indices derived from UAV imagery for major smallholder crops of West Africa. Field instrumentation utilized in STARS-ISABELA campaigns to develop remote sensing libraries and algorithms for crop specific management support include fPAR sensors, cholorophyll meters, soil moisture probes, vertical cameras, and smartphones with custom ODK and proprietary data collection forms. UAVs flown over field teams include SenseFly eBees with 3-band NIR cameras, and a GeoKonzept GEO-X8000 octocopter with a 5-band Tetracam miniMCA camera.

The workshop provided teams with time to advance their 2015 campaign planning, with planting season just around the corner. It also allowed for refinement of custom data collection and processing procedures, including the use of MANOBI’s new JotBi mobile platform. Particular attention was put on organizing the complex data streams, which have every fortnight to whizz close to 150Gb of imagery data from the field in Sukumba, Mali and Kofa, Nigeria to ICRISAT-Mali and to partners UCL, UdeS and WUR[4] and stream back simple image analyses to over 150 farmers through mobile networks. Special thanks are extended to the regional CCAFS[5] program, which provided welcome protection from the uncompromising Sudanian sun and heat !!

[1] Imagery for Smallholders: Activating Business Entry points and Leveraging Agriculture
[2] Spurring a Transformation for Agriculture through Remote Sensing
[3] Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
[4] Wageningen University and Research Centre
[5] Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security program

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