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SA farmers get IOT-based weather stations

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 26 Jun 2023

The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), an entity of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), has collaborated with agritech firms to rollout Eureka Climate Smart Agriculture localised weather stations across SA’s agricultural sector.

According to a statement, the internet of things (IOT)-based weather stations provide localised climate data to help farmers improve water use efficiency, reduce the impact of plant disease and adapt to climate change.

The weather stations, for small- and large-scale farms, come with sensors to provide important information about soil, crop and field conditions, including air and soil temperature, relative humidity, soil temperature, evapotranspiration, rainfall, wind speed and direction.

It is funded through the partnership of the TIA, DSI and a global consortium comprising TerraClim, Pessl Instruments GmbH, Metos SA and geospatial technologies firm Geosmart Space.

Eureka Climate Smart Agriculture is a global intergovernmental organisation for market-driven industrial research and development. It is a decentralised network facilitating the coordination of national funding on R&D and innovation, aiming to boost the productivity and competitiveness of industries.

Sibusiso Manana, head of agriculture at the TIA, says. “Agriculture is a key contributor to the economic development and GDP of South Africa.

“The importance of technologies such as the localised weather stations cannot be over-emphasised. The benefits are far-reaching, as they go beyond just the food produce but can extend to animal feed. Agriculture is key to food security for the country, and with technologies such as these, we can produce better quality food, which means a healthier society.”

As part of the pilot project, more than 200 weather stations and 14 CropView cameras have successfully been installed across the Western Cape, according to the TIA.

The initiative looks to expand the deployment to other provinces.

Over the last two decades, agriculture has been subject to economic challenges which have impacted the industry, says the TIA. These include changes in rainfall patterns, increased evaporation rates, extreme temperatures, changes in diseases and pest distribution ranges and reduced yields in optimum growing regions.

Innovation is key to the development of technologies that can mitigate these risks in the sector, it says.

Toto Matshediso, director: global projects at the DSI, comments: “The DSI is proud of the work that has been achieved by all the partners involved in this initiative. Innovation is more than just invention but includes collaborating for a wider impact.

“It is also encouraging to see various stakeholders, such as the weather services and others, take an interest in the innovations the National System of Innovation is investing in.”