Pest and disease forecasting

Next to weather variability, the occurrence of pests and diseases in crops is one of the main reasons for yield loss. Better controlling the outbreaks of pests and diseases can therefore greatly contribute to the food security and livelihood of African farmers. Atmospheric conditions are the major driver for the development and spread of crop pests and diseases. When conditions are humid, diseases can easily develop, while the direction of migratory pests is among other things controlled by wind direction and rainfall patterns. Weather Impact forecasts if future weather conditions are suitable for the development of pest and disease.

When future atmospheric conditions are combined with land-use of crop stage data, for example from satellite imagery, these forecasts can be further specified and converted into risk maps. This enables us to not only provide a probability for future outbreaks, but also identify the regions that are most at risk.

FAW Alert service

An example of a service we provide to Ghanaian farmers, is the Fall Army Worm (FAW) Alert. Based on future weather conditions and satellite imagery, the risk of FAW spread and infestation is calculated for the coming week. Based on this risk level, a FAW Alert message is issued that informs farmers prior to a FAW invasion and gives them time to take prevention measures. In 2019, the FAW Alert was successfully tested in Ghana by 1250 farmers. Weekly messages containing the current FAW risk level and suggested prevention measures were delivered by voice-SMS in 15 different local languages. It was found that most of the farmers (> 80%) experienced the messages to be clear, useful, timely, accurate, and had a positive impact on their yield.

“The FAW Alert helped me and my community at large. Last year, the worm destroyed almost every farm, but this year we control the spread because we were informed prior to their invasion. The timing was perfect for early prevention and control.”
Maize farmer in Ghana

Currently, the FAW Alert is operational for Ghana, Kenya, and Myanmar, and can be easily scaled to other countries.

More news about this project in Ghana;
SBIR Fall Armyworm