Crop Monitoring and Yield Modeling using Drone Technologies in Ghana
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International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) is an independent non-profit organization that combines innovative research, market systems development, and strategic partnerships to spread sustainable agricultural solutions for improved soil health, food security, and livelihoods around the world. IFDC’s mission is to bring together innovative research, market expertise, and strategic public and private sector partners to identify and scale sustainable solutions for soil and plant nutrition that benefit farmers, entrepreneurs and the environment. IFDC: 1) Develops, identifies and tests technologies and innovations to improve soil health and plant nutrition; 2) Increases farm productivity, profitability and sustainability of target smallholder agricultural systems; 3) Strengthens market systems to scale technologies and improve livelihoods, environmental outcomes and climate resilience; and 4) Enables impact at scale by improving policies and strengthening capacities.
Sub-Saharan Africa experiences poor soil fertility that suppresses crop yields. The use of fertilizers has therefore been recommended as one of the ways to address this problem of low yield and poor agricultural productivity. Crop fertilizer uses in Ghana, for example, is low in general but highly variable with yield responses varying across agroecological zones. Therefore, soil fertility may not be the only culprit for low yields and variability. Based on existing yield response data, the IFDC program Fertilizer Research and Responsible Implementation (FERARI) seeks to undertake an integrated analysis using soil parameters, climate, and high-resolution multispectral variables to model fertilizer yield response for crops across Ghana’s agroecological zones. We, therefore, pursue to explore the influence of these factors and visualize the yield variability based on the interactions of the variables. The objectives of the study are as follows:
- Crop Monitoring and Yield Modeling using Drone Technologies in Ghana Collect existing data on crop yield response to fertilizers trials and other explanatory variables in Ghana.
- Crop Monitoring and Yield Modeling using Drone Technologies in Ghana Prepare additional covariates (NDVI, NDWI, NDRE,…) from drone remotely sensed data.
- Crop Monitoring and Yield Modeling using Drone Technologies in Ghana Model the influence of the variables on crop yield.
- Crop Monitoring and Yield Modeling using Drone Technologies in Ghana Map the crop yields based on the defined model.
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This student would analyze the influence of climate, soil, and remotely sensed variables on crop yield using advanced statistical methods and then visualize the variability of yields as influenced by the variables using predictive mapping. The study area would be FERARI field trial locations and the student shall be required to produce a clear methodology for achieving the objectives. In the course of the internship, the student would receive assistance and supervision from the FERARI team.
At the end of the research, the student shall produce a report to FERARI on this research and extract the most important findings in a policy brief. The student would also be assisted to produce a research article that can be published in a scientific journal for our wider international audience.
The duration of this assignment shall be four (4) months, but preferably up to seven (7) months. The student is expected to deliver specific activities within the following timeline (student can propose a revision to the timeline).
Methodological and Literature review
Report writing, Policy brief writing
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IFDC-FERARI could offer a student from Wageningen, economy class return ticket, a stipend of 250US$ (twohundredfifty dollars) (to support expenses for housing), and operational expenses in the country (transport, hotels when outside Accra, per-diem etc) for field operations. Other expenses, like own support and insurances should be born by the student. A contract will be agreed between IFDC and the student.
An MPhil/MSc student in agronomy, Agro-geomatics, Fertilizer Science and Technology, or related studies. Applicant must have completed his/her course work and be ready to start the research component. The applicant must demonstrate high analytical capabilities, knowledge in remote sensing and UAV, be creative, pragmatic, and flexible in finding solutions to the problem. Preferably, the applicant should be able to pilot a drone (should possess a drone pilot license), knowledgeable in regression, geostatistics, machine learning, and software packages such as R, QGIS, and Microsoft Excel with good communication skills.