The world’s population is growing, meaning there’s more mouths to feed. With climate change wreaking havoc on global food supply chains, doing so in a sustainable manner becomes increasingly difficult. That’s why initiatives like the World Food Day are so critical.
Celebrated every 16 October, World Food Day puts the spotlight on the importance of sustainable food systems and combating global hunger. It highlights actions happening across the world where the EU is taking steps to strengthen global food systems through humanitarian and international assistance and cooperation.
Supporting these steps is the EU Space Programme.
Here are 10 concrete ways EU Space helps address the global food security challenge:
1. Earth Observation data is regularly used to monitor crop seasons. For example, when satellite imagery coverage is integrated with field surveys, one can quantify the areas to be planted and, later to be harvested.
2. The use of GNSS together with Earth observation for planting crops can determine where to apply fertilisers and pesticides, thereby reducing their use. In fact, it is estimated that using Earth Observation and GNSS together can help increase yields by more than 10% while reducing the use of fuel, fertiliser and pesticides by up to 20%.
3. Galileo and Copernicus data are also behind operational solutions as farm machinery guidance, precision irrigation and variable rate application. These tools increase the productivity of agricultural cultivation by supporting informed management processes and optimising the use of land, seeds, plant protection agents and water.
4. Earth Observation is the most accessible and effective way of acquiring information on site-specific crop properties over broad areas – information that can help increase the efficiency of farming operations. Specifically, the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service (CLMS) provides data on vegetation, water cycle, crop yield forecasting and soil condition monitoring.
5. As a key enabler of precision farming, Galileo and EGNOS allow farmers to optimise the space between planted seeds, which further boosts productivity and yields and reduce energy use.
6. Earth Observation images that are complemented by GNSS (including Galileo and EGNOS) can be used to evaluate and provide early warnings about drought and crop yields, giving governments a powerful tool to tackle famine in a timely fashion.
7. The use of Galileo and Copernicus is proving useful in livestock management. For example, Galileo-enabled collars – used to monitor livestock – support the activities of the breeders while Copernicus data helps them identify the most suitable grazing area.
8. Within fisheries, Copernicus is used to help assess fish stocks and to optimise fishing efforts. Together with GNSS, it can also help prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
9. In the aquaculture sector, both Earth Observation and GNSS applications contribute to the optimisation and planning of aquaculture operations by providing a host of information to aquafarmers. This information is used to select the best site for their fish farms and determine water quality in lakes and reservoirs or along coastal areas.
10. EGNSS constitutes a vital link within the food supply chain, providing the precise positioning needed to, for example, track food products being transported by air, land and sea.
Clearly, sustainable food systems start with EU Space. “Leveraging the power of EU Space puts us in a better position to answer the food security challenge and paves the way to being able to sustainably feed the world’s growing population,” concludes da Costa.
More information: EUSPA