Tag Archives: GIS

RTB GIS initiative promotes open data

By Glenn Hyman – International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

Far too often our research and development activities remain hidden in difficult-to-find places, limiting its potential to achieve impact. A group of seven professionals applying spatial analysis and geographic information systems (GIS) to roots, tubers and bananas (RTB) research is working to change that. They met last week in San Diego, California in conjunction with the Environmental Systems Research Institute’s (ESRI) International Users Conference to share results of their work on RTB crops. The meeting was sponsored by the RTB Research Program and the Consortium for Spatial Information (CSI), both CGIAR initiatives.

At the ESRI Conference in San Diego, California

At the ESRI Conference in San Diego, California

The researchers – a RTB team of GIS professionals – presented their research on mapping soil organic carbon in cassava fields, participatory research for biodiversity monitoring of potato, use of GIS for assessing banana fusariam wilt disease, a multi-criteria decision support system for priority setting in RTB crops, an open database of evaluations trials and an online digital atlas called RTBMaps (see summaries and links to the research presentations below). One aim of the group is to share useful geographic information developed by RTB researchers with the larger agricultural research community.  They share this knowledge through RTBMaps.

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RTBMaps brings together spatial information on RTB crop distributions, abiotic and biotic constraints to RTB production, socioeconomic conditions and other map information relevant to these crops. The group puts this information in the public domain for use by the research and development community working on RTB crops. Future development of the Atlas will include new map layers on pests and diseases, climate change impacts on RTB crops and other layers of interest. Ultimately the group expects to motivate new research and development activities that build on these knowledge and information resources.

Online Atlas of Roots, Tubers and Banana Crops

RTBMaps is an online GIS tool to visualize production, constraints and social indicators associated with Roots and Tubers and Bananas (RTB) crops. Information mapped by the tool, includes data on pests and diseases, evapotranspiration rates, vulnerability to failed harvests, fertilizer application rates and the incidence of malnutrition in children. With this project the power of maps will be out of the GIS lab into the hands of the RTB science community-CGIAR scientists and partners worldwide.

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Spatial Variability of Soil Organic Carbon in a Cassava Farm Nigeria

Spatial variability map of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) is crucial for nutrient management. Georeferenced samples were collected at 30 and 60cm depth on 467Ha. Kriging produced spatial distribution of SOC using Geostatistical Analyst. Best fit semivariogram models were Rational Quadratic(topsoil) and K-Bessel(subsoil). The nugget-to-sill ratio was 0.60 (topsoil) and 0.92(subsoil), indicating medium & weak spatial dependence for both depths. Two fertility management zones for SOC were delineated

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Participatory mapping for the systematic monitoring of biodiversity

Biodiversity sustains a wide variety of genetic traits that are very valuable for the potato’s adaption to changing environments and successful cultivation in the future. However, several factors are threatening biodiversity in the Andes. For this reason, it is necessary for monitoring to be done with a standardized system and common observation parameters. Here we explain how participatory mapping and survey methods are used for the systematic monitoring of potato landraces in the Andes.

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Geographic Targeting for Diagnostic of Banana Fusarium Wilt

Using ArcGIS Desktop we applied different criteria to select a group a 149 farms to conduct the first stage of a study in San Luis de Shuaro, Peru. Due to access difficulties found on this region, the study would have been much more difficult and cost much more in terms of resource allocation had we been unable to utilize GIS.

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Siempre: A GIS aided multi-criteria decision analysis application

GIS tools allow the handling of spatial criteria data to be assimilated and interpreted by groups of experts when evaluating solutions to complex problems.This project uses multicriteria decision analysis to support geographic targeting of interventions in crop improvement for main agricultural crops, by using an application called SIEMPRE, which is GIS aided online, and is used to elicit expert opinion to value alternative solutions utilizing the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) methodology.

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A global agricultural trial site application

This presentation describes an application that organizes and manages evaluations of crop cultivars at sites across the world. The application can serve this data and includes multiple opportunities for linking systems that deal with these types of data. In the presentation, we demonstrate the development of an online database to manage evaluation data, linking this data set to geographic representations online and providing the data as a service to other applications.



Interactive tool maps out world of bananas, potatoes and cassava

Through an interactive mapping system, scientists and agricultural professionals can now visualize the world of roots, tubers and bananas. Using 25 categories, RTBMaps paints a complex picture of global production zones.

With the click of a mouse, users may create a specialized map that compares plantain harvest zones to mean temperature, cassava to mealybug presence, or potatoes to food accessibility.

Publisher: FreshFruitPortal.com

Publishing date: 2013-07-19

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Online mapping tool for analysis and planning receives international award

RTBMaps – a web-based GIS (Geographic Information Systems) tool to help planners visualize data and analyze options for using roots, tubers and bananas to improve food security, nutrition and income – has been selected for a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award, presented today at the 2013 Esri International User Conference.

A collaboration of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the GIS teams at Bioversity International, the International Potato Center (CIP) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), RTBMaps is harnessing the latest advances in GIS and cloud technology for the purpose of helping people in the world’s poorest regions.


Some of the most important decisions to be made in the first years of Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) concern where the research program’s resources and activities can achieve the greatest impact. RTB crops are grown in regions with some of the world’s highest rates of poverty and malnutrition; but where could work on specific crops or issues go the farthest in improving food security, nutrition or income? What are the distributions of the principal pests, diseases and other constraints to production? What areas present the greatest opportunities for RTB?

GIS specialists at the four research centers collaborating on RTB are helping the program’s decision makers to grapple with such issues by creating an online GIS tool to visualize production, constraints and social indicators associated with RTB crops. That online atlas is hosted by the CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information (CSI). Together, these organizations have created a series of maps on ArcGIS Online, which uses cloud technology for GIS and allows users to build their own maps by combining layers.

“With this project, we want to move the power of maps out of the GIS lab and into the hands of the RTB science community – CGIAR scientists and our partners worldwide,” said Glenn Hyman, who is coordinating the project for CSI. He noted that the website is user friendly, accessible to all and free of charge. “Anybody can use these maps. You don’t need specific software. You don’t need any GIS training. All you need is a web browser.”

The four CGIAR participating centers – CIAT, CIP, Bioversity International and IITA – were selected to receive a Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award at the 2013 Esri International User Conference.  The award is given to user sites around the world to recognize outstanding work with GIS technology.  RTBMaps was chosen from more than 100,000 others.

ESRI Conference 2013

ESRI Conference 2013

Hyman said that RTBMaps is the most comprehensive and collaborative GIS web-mapping project to be undertaken within the CGIAR system to date. He noted that the cloud technology that it is based on has only become available in recent years.

RTBMaps is being launched with approximately 25 map layers, which are based on data for RTB crop distribution, indicators for poverty and food-security and some production constraints. However, the number of layers will grow as the GIS specialists at the research centers upload maps for additional pests and diseases, social indicators and other pertinent data. The RTB GIS team will also add applications for simple functions such as printing, or downloading maps for use in presentations. The team has also developed a priority setting application that allows users to weight the importance of different criteria – based on their own research, or consultations – and run analyses that result in unique maps.

Bernardo Creamer, an agricultural economist with the CGIAR Decision and Policy Analysis Program (DAPA), came up with the idea and worked with Hyman on the priority-setting tool. He explains that it could be used by anyone from breeders to social scientists to donors who are trying to decide where to focus their efforts or resources.

“I’m an economist, I don’t have a GIS background, but I can see the power of these maps,” Creamer said. “If all you look at are numbers, you may miss some important things. This tool helps you take criteria into consideration that you might otherwise ignore.”

According to Henry Juarez, who heads the GIS laboratory at CIP and has been working on GIS for more than a decade, the cloud technology and collaborative nature of RTBMaps are groundbreaking. He noted that the initiative has also resulted in unprecedented knowledge sharing among the GIS experts at the research centers involved.

“This is the first time I’ve been connected with the GIS specialists at the other research centers. I didn’t realize that there was so much information available,” he said.

Juarez was one of more than a dozen GIS experts and social scientists from the four RTB research centers who attended a workshop in November, 2012, at CIAT to learn ArcGIS Online, resolve technical issues, and set priorities for the mapping initiative.

“One of the great things about this project is that it has gotten the research centers involved in RTB to share their data,” Juarez said. He observed that in addition to creating a tool with great potential, the initiative has catalyzed knowledge sharing and collaboration, which are central to the RTB mission.