Chris Justice, co-chair of the GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative (GEOGLAM) and Chief Scientist of the NASA Harvest Consortium , was invited to the German Embassy to give a keynote address, kicking off a panel discussion on how developments in agricultural technologies are being used to monitor and improve global agricultural productivity and food security.
Invited speakers represented a variety of public and private organizations, including the World Bank; Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany; German Aerospace Center; USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service; International Food Policy Research Institute's (IFPRI); European Space Agency; Association of Agricultural Equipment Manufacturers; American Farm Bureau Federation; American firms AGCO and Bayer; and the German firms VDMA and GAF Ag.
As a changing climate, economic shocks, and conflicts impact agricultural production, the ability to monitor and improve crop growth and forecast harvest yields is increasingly important. Considering the logistical interconnectedness of the world’s food supply, production issues in one location can have significant repercussions around the globe. The event at the German Embassy focused on how efforts by a variety of scientific and industry groups are supporting agricultural decision-making, filling information gaps, building user-driven tools and products, and strengthening global food security.
“International Earth Observation (EO) data are helping monitor agriculture from space, with higher frequency and spatial resolution than ever before. However, EO data are not the only technology that is helping inform agriculture. Smart machinery like modern irrigation systems and GPS-enabled harvesters allows us to track ground conditions and improve EO-based crop models,” said Justice. “The representatives from a variety of scientific organizations and private sector firms at the German Embassy event, provided a fertile discussion and identified areas for collaboration between a variety of stakeholders to improve agricultural systems.”
The international Group on Earth Observations Agricultural Monitoring (GEOGLAM) initiative provides a framework of collaboration for the Community of Practice.
Recognizing the need for an internationally coordinated response to global food supply shocks, the G20, an intergovernmental forum of the world’s largest economies, established GEOGLAM in 2011 to improve the use of EO data and models to strengthen decision-making around food production and security. Harvest is NASA’s contribution to the international GEOGLAM initiative.
Chris Justice explained in his keynote address how GEOGLAM is carrying out this mission, cooperating to improve reporting mechanisms and support policy action.
“GEOGLAM brings together multiple national agencies, universities and research instiututes and private sector firms. This cooperation, building on improved monitoring techniques, is letting us better understand where and how crops are grown around the world and helping us to prevent future food insecurity.”
One of the major products is the GEOGLAM Crop Monitor monthly report. The Crop Monitor produces written and graphic reports based on satellite data and community consensus for major food exporting countries as well as food insecure countries around the world. For example, a recent report drew attention to a food insecurity developing due to consecutive droughts in the Horn of Africa.