FarmSupport - Assessing the Potential of Farmer Mobile Information Services for Agricultural Decision Support

FarmSupport aims at developing a proof-of-concept application that will provide farmers in Ethiopia and Kenya with weather forecasts and soil moisture information. This information service is intended to help farmers in making agricultural decisions. Weather information is of value to farmers, but has suffered in the past due to problems with getting the information to the farmer.

Short Description

To tackle this issue, the application will be delivered via internet and mobile phones, including iPhones. It will also be used to collect crowd-sourced information from the farmers on crops planted, crop yields and fertilizer use by means of a modified Geo-Wiki, thereby promoting two-way communication flow between the data providers (IIASA & ZAMG) and the user (African farmer).

The crowd-sourced data will be used to improve the IIASA EPIC crop growth model. Improved crop models could lead to more accurate early warning systems for food security and to better estimates of current yield gaps.

The crowd-sourced data represents a potentially unique and valuable dataset for agricultural monitoring, mapping and modelling, and will be freely disseminated via Geo-Wiki. The project will test the information service in two locations: Ethiopia and Kenya.

The key data source underpinning the FarmSupport project is soil moisture derived from the ASCAT sensor, which has become available for Africa through the FFG-funded project Global Monitoring of Soil Moisture for Water Hazards Assessment (GMSM). FarmSupport adds value to GMSM by acting as an additional application that will demonstrate the potential of ASCAT-derived soil moisture.

Farmers and the crop modelling team at IIASA will be provided with soil moisture forecasts, which will be obtained from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and downscaled by ZAMG, and ASCAT-derived soil moisture.

This project will provide an opportunity to compare these two data sources and evaluate the usefulness of ECMWF soil moisture forecasts as a source of information to farmers and for crop modelling more generally. ZAMG will also compare soil moisture derived from ASCAT with soil moisture from EPIC, and historical forecasts of ECMWF soil moisture with historical soil moisture from EPIC. This research component of the project will address the accuracy of different soil moisture products and the EPIC model.

Project Partners


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) - Steffen Fritz


Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) - Alexander Jann

Contact Address

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Steffen Fritz
Schlossplatz 1
A-2361 Laxenburg
Tel.: +43 (2236) 807 - 353