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Use of drones strengthens agriculture in dealing with climate change

04 June 2020 - Spring 2020 has been one of the sunniest, driest and warmest springs since the launch of systematic weather records. Another drought would considerably harm German farmers, who already suffered heavy yield losses in 2018 and 2019.

Digital technologies are becoming a crucial tool to establish support mechanisms in coping with increased climate risks. This was already described in the IAMO Policy Brief 35 on “Landwirtschaft in Zeiten der Dürre: Wie Digitalisierung ein nachhaltiges Risikomanagement unterstützen kann“ (in German only). In scope of the project DETECCT, IAMO contributes to this process with the development of new digital tools for drought risk management on farm and policy level.

Over the past weeks, a team of IAMO researchers has been conducting field measurements with drone technology that can provide precise information on plant growth, soil conditions, and other parameters. As part of the first stage of the data collection, selected wheat plots with different soil structure and farm management were covered in the three German states Saxony-Anhalt, Lower Saxony and Bavaria that experienced strong yield losses in previous droughts.

The collected data will support the development of index based drought insurance and the establishment of a digital early warning platform. This platform is intended to provide timely and comprehensive data on yield losses from climate related risks, enabling informed policy decision and more accurate farm planning processes for farmers. In scope of the project KlimALEZ, similar data collections are planned to be undertaken also in selected Central Asian countries.

“Digital tools increase data processing speed, enable timely decision making and thus allow to deal with challenges and uncertainties in a more efficient way,” remarked by IAMO researchers Ihtiyor Bobojonov and Lena Kuhn.