Yesterday, 18 June 2020, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) joined the rest of the world by acknowledging the innovative applications of geographic information system (GIS) technology in analysis, visualisation, gaining insights into geospatial data, and thought leadership in agriculture.
Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer says that the WCDoA has been active in GIS for over three decades.
Meyer: “During that time we have developed a vast resource of spatial information related to agriculture in the province. Analyses of the data regularly help to provide information to support decision-making amongst stakeholders, planning partners and our officials and management.”
According to the WCDoA’s specialist scientist, Dr Mike Wallace, GIS allows us to integrate many different types of data from various sources.
Wallace: “Be it satellites, topographic maps, weather data and land use, we can analyse the data towards better understanding and decision making regarding our natural and agricultural resources and commodities. As such, it has become an indispensable tool in the management and administration of many spheres from municipal utilities to conservation, to rural development planning and of course, agriculture.”
One such example developed by WCDoA over the last decade is the innovative and popular Web portal known as Cape Farm Mapper (CFM).
The portal allows free access to much of our local data to our non-specialist users – even facilitating their production of report-quality maps.
Wallace: “As an example of the popularity of this data portal, we receive some 35 000 “hits” per month from almost 10 000 different users. At a technical level, we are also developing a portal to facilitate easy access to free multispectral satellite imagery. The portal will provide unique insights into various aspects of crop production and veld management, at multiple scales.”
Wallace continues: “In 2013 we established and continue to maintain a detailed, mapped database of all the different agricultural commodities and infrastructure in our province, known as the “Flyover” – a handy and well-used data component of the WCDoA GIS which is lauded by many of our planning partners, economists and researchers.”
Meyer concludes: “GIS technology offers an innovative, effective management tool. Our Department is committed to the mainstreaming of GIS and recognizes the value of recording geographic locations to facilitate spatial analysis and management.”