Satellite-Driven Irrigation Advisory Yields Strong Results for Smallholder Farmers in Ghana
The integration of both satellite and ground-based data represents a substantial enhancement to irrigation management practices.
FutureWater’s pioneering initiative, the SOSIA+ irrigation advisory application, has been yielding promising results in Ghana. SOSIA+ harnesses the power of satellite data in combination with real-time, localized ground data from weather stations and currently implementing also soil moisture sensors.
Looking at global climate change patterns and its increased pressure on natural resources, West African nations like Ghana face substantial challenges. Agriculture, as a sector vital to Ghana’s economy, stands particularly vulnerable to the impacts of rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns. This climate variability introduces increased uncertainty into crop production, yields, and farming livelihoods. The lengthening periods of drought in Ghana and the heightened strain on water resources due to climate change pose significant risks to both the populace and agricultural communities, as water availability becomes increasingly precarious.
In response, the SOSIA+ project offers an innovative tool set to bolster water security in Ghana. This tool aims to reduce water consumption for irrigation per hectare by as much as 40% compared to current usage. At the heart of this smart irrigation service lies a groundbreaking algorithm that provides tailored advice on irrigation duration for specific crops. This advice is based on a dynamic fusion of local weather data and real-time observations.
Field trials conducted with local farmers have yielded compelling results. Visual assessments of crop performance in the SOSIA+ irrigated plots closely resembled those of the control fields, which followed traditional irrigation schedules. Most notably, SOSIA+ consistently reduced irrigation water requirements while optimizing crop yields. Remarkably, in 100% of the trials, farmers utilized less water when following SOSIA+ recommendations compared to their conventional irrigation practices. Analysis of irrigation records further underscored the significant water savings achieved, ranging from 15% to 50%.
FutureWater is leading the irrigation advisory service of MAGDA, making use of hydrological modelling using SPHY (Spatial Processes in Hydrology). The output expected consists of an operational irrigation service to provide advice on when and how much to irrigate at certain moments during the cropping season, using as input data improved weather forecasts.
Author: Amelia Fernández Rodríguez, Lisa Verschuren
Promotional video of SOSIA+: https://youtu.be/W80UIuPpXiA?si=AsAX3GJLDzraqQP3
irrigation timing and amounts; surface soil moisture; data assimilation; particle filters; FAO-56; Sentinel-1; semi-arid Mediterranean region; winter wheat