Unlocking the Potential of Satellite-based Data and Analytics for Smallholder Farmers
The Enabling Satellite-based Crop Analytics at Scale (ECAAS) Initiative is a multi-phase project that aims to catalyze the development, availability, and uptake of agricultural remote-sensing data and subsequent applications in smallholder farming systems. The initiative is funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by Tetra Tech.
The lack of geo-referenced and labeled data to train and calibrate machine learning/AI models remains one of the most significant barriers preventing the more widespread application of satellite-based data & analytics in agriculture in emerging markets. This gap is particularly pronounced for smallholder agriculture, where the scale, remoteness, complexity, and heterogeneity of farming practices intensify data and analytical requirements.
With the belief that training datasets for satellite-based analytics can contribute to one of the essential building blocks of a modernized data ecosystem for agriculture in emerging economies, ECAAS aims to develop partnerships, innovation framework, and data sharing infrastructure to address this gap. To achieve these goals, the initiative has set four priority objectives:
- Develop and test innovative strategies and methods for dramatically reducing the costs of collecting ground-truth data or further use within the data chain.
- Identify, map, and promote standards for collecting and aggregating high quality training data, driven by priority use case applications of end products.
- Facilitate the scaling of training dataset creation and exchange through an improved data sharing ecosystem.
- Improve access to repositories of regularly updated ground data and core insights layers (i.e., crop yields, acreage, production) to enable scalable satellite-based analytics in emerging agricultural economies.
Designed and implemented in close coordination with a range of key partners and complementary efforts, the ECAAS project will be executed in two phases:
- Phase 1 – Incubation, planning, network development, and piloting (January 2020 – September 2022). Tetra Tech will work closely with the Gates Foundation to support design of the second phase of the initiative, identify a long-term networking and hosting structure, and initiate an Acceleration Facility to test ground data capture and analytic technologies and methods.
- Phase 2 – Full-scale implementation of the systematic effort (Beginning October 2022). The design and implementation framework of this phase will depend on lessons learned and recommendations from the first phase, and this will be updated over time.