Pioneering crop monitoring for food security wins Newton Prize
A new way to monitor crop production for global food security developed by scientists at UCL and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, has won the Newton Prize 2019 Chair’s Award. The UK-China team behind the pioneering research project were announced winners of the £459,000 prize at a special event in London on Wednesday 12 February, attended by Chris Skidmore MP, Universities and Science Minister at the time.
Across the world, pressures such as population growth, soil erosion, drought, flooding, pesticide overuse, and groundwater depletion are threatening the sustainability of future food production. All of which will be exacerbated by climate change. Researchers from UCL and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences are addressing these challenges through advanced data assimilation techniques. This has already been used to vastly improve the accuracy and resolution of crop monitoring and crop yield estimates over the North China Plain. The technique developed by scientists enables better planning and informed decision-making at all levels, to positively impact the livelihoods of low-income rural communities, and is now being tested in other countries, including Ghana and the UK.
The project is among the first to make use of new capabilities from high temporal frequency imaging from space, enabled by the EU/ESA Copernicus Sentinel satellites and supplemented by US and Chinese assets. The information produced has fed directly into agricultural production planning in China at government and regional level, and the team is working to provide it more widely to workers and farmers.
The Newton Prize is a £1 million fund that supports world-class research partnerships as they take their projects to the next level. The Chair’s Award recognises exceptional impact and research which exhibits the best knowledge exchange and partnership development.
The project was supported by Science & Technology Facilities Council, part of UK Research and Innovation and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
(Content and Image Courtesy: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/feb/pioneering-crop-monitoring-food-security-wins-newton-prize)