Pest and Disease Surveillance via High-Resolution Satellites
David Hughes, and Nita Bharti of Penn State University in the U.S. together with James Legg at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Tanzania and the Charity, Self Help Africa, will leverage daily, high-resolution satellite imagery of farms in Kenya to monitor crop pests and diseases. Publicly funded satellites have the capacity to measure crop health, soil moisture, and water availability across wide areas. However, they are unable to accurately diagnose crop diseases particularly in smallholder farms because of the presence of many different types of often unhealthy-looking vegetation caused by lack of water or nutrients rather than plant diseases. They will use ground data on crop diseases and pests being collected as part of a five-year EU-funded project at 1,400 farms in seven counties growing a variety of crops. They will also collect maps of the farms using drones flying at different heights and see how well any pests and diseases can be detected using the daily satellite data. They will validate their approach for detecting pests and diseases on an additional 1,400 farms.