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Agricultural Census and
Baseline Mapping

Various Agricultural entities, such as Agricultural Departments (National and Provincial) has identified a need for accurate baseline data (spatial and non-spatial) of crops, livestock and infrastructure, which will give inter alia an indication of the surface area of land under agriculture production, estimated crop yield produced and the crop production patterns in the various provinces. This information will help to monitor changes in Agricultural production and the loss of agricultural land to other land uses. There is also a need to locate all the livestock producers in a province and generate the accurate statistical data. This information will help with better management of animal disease outbreaks.

Despite the development of an agri-processing strategy and that of agricultural hubs, the various departments are always flooded with queries from within and external stakeholders of the regionalised data on infrastructure, crop and livestock production statistics. This in itself highlights a higher demand of data of all the agricultural activities occurring in the Provinces per farm practice. In some provinces this is the most requested dataset of all.

The development of the Producer Independent Crop Estimate System (PICES) in 2006 by SiQ has opened a number of doors for the implementation of the methodology and the approach in various other applications. The Agricultural Census and Baseline Mapping projects were one of these applications.

In 2009 the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) contracted SiQ to conduct an Agricultural Census and Baseline Mapping project for the province. This was followed by the Limpopo Department of Agriculture (LDA) in 2011 and also by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture in 2013.

The clients needed accurate data for the successful implementation of the Agricultural strategy and the development of Agricultural hubs through promoting and encouraging production of high value crops. The projects aimed to:

  • Geo-reference and map all the cultivated crop fields, both winter and summer crops
  • Identify, locate and map all the farms in the province where there is livestock production taking place (including game)
  • Geo-reference and map agri-processing infrastructures (in terms of SIP 11)
  • Geo-reference and map agri-tourism infrastructures
  • Identify Land-use change in land reform farms
  • Determine the proximity of existing agri-processing infrastructure to road networks and also to production areas
  • Assess the performance of land reform projects in terms of production
  • Develop Agricultural Strategic Analysis & Business Report

In 2017/18 a follow up project was done in the Western Cape, and this was the first time that comparable data was gathered with this process which could be used for analysis such as land use change, production area changes and other time related changes.

The dynamics of this type of project required that a multiple approach had to be followed to ensure the success of the final deliverable. The actions that were taken can be summarized as follows:

Data Preparation (including updating of field crop boundaries)

The digitised field crop boundaries were updated using the latest SPOT 5 satellite imagery and aerial photography. During the data preparation phase and while updating the field crop boundaries all potential agricultural infrastructure and agri-processing plants such as chicken batteries, piggeries, feedlots and tunnels were identified.

Field Survey

Due to the fact that a multiple approach was followed to conduct the actual field survey, it was planned in terms of the areas identified for the aerial based survey and areas for the vehicle based survey. The advantage of the aerial based survey is that it allows one to cover extremely large areas very cost effectively and objectively.

Software was developed for efficient field data capturing from the air as well as the field. All the data capturing software was GIS based and thus all data captured was automatically geo-referenced. This included digital cameras that were linked to the GIS software and when a photograph was taken (can also be automatically activated), a spatial point was placed in the database and a hyperlink to the photograph was immediately generated for easy post processing and analysis.

The aerial survey was conducted with experienced observers capturing the relevant information onto the onboard software system. The same system was used for the vehicle based survey. The field survey work for the field crops consisted of determining the type of crop planted on each of the potential fields that was digitized for the various provinces. To enable this each field had to be over-flown and the crop type indicated for the specific field. The aerial survey conducted for the crop field classification was also used to capture information with regards to livestock production.

Most of the horticultural crops could not be identified with the aerial survey (for example crops grown in tunnels or under shade nets) and a vehicle based surveyed was conducted for these. In some instances physical visits were not made as the necessary information could be obtained from producers telephonically.

Various profound conclusions could be made from these projects, for example:

  • A number of the provinces were underestimating crop production in the province significantly
  • In some of the provinces vast areas of previously agricultural active land have been transformed to mining or development

Our experience with the agricultural industry and producers, as well as our technology driven, multi-faceted integrated approach enabled us to deliver a high quality product to the client.

"In some of the provinces vast areas of previously agricultural active land have been transformed to mining or development"

"A number of the provinces were underestimating crop production in the province significantly"