Surrey-based software developer, Adept Communications has signed up to the national SPRINT business support programme to develop a new Water Analysis Tool for Africa (WATA). SPRINT will provide Adept Communications with funded access to remote sensing research expertise at the University of Southampton. This will drive the development of an innovative WATA water optimisation system that will help farmers in dryland regions of Africa to improve water management, continue to grow their crops during droughts and help to prevent famine.
The University of Southampton will provide Adept Communications with space-enabled innovation expertise in developing algorithms to analyse and measure crop growth stages from Earth Observation (EO) satellite images and these will be then used plan water management. Irrigation is the solution to changes in rainfall as a result of global warming and this analysis will enable Adept Communications to make accurate estimates of how much water is needed by crops in any region and plan effective, optimised irrigation systems.
The WATA solution will enable farmers to optimise water consumption and also conserve limited water resources. It will provide farmers with the information needed to minimise risk of running out of water so that crops can be grown during periods of drought or insufficient rainfall.
The project will be funded by a grant from the £4.8 million SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme that provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities. SPRINT helps businesses through the commercial exploitation of space data and technologies.
Michael Castle, CEO of Adept Communications said: “Our vision is to provide precision agriculture services to farmers, helping them to optimise irrigation resources and prevent famine resulting from failed crops in a drought. Through the SPRINT programme, we have enlisted the support of the University of Southampton to provide technical knowledge in developing algorithms to analyse and measure water-stress from satellite images.
“We’re looking forward to a very productive working relationship with the University, helping us to creatively work around the technology barriers. The University’s research will underpin our future offering and is vital to creating a viable business proposition. We’re confident that this SPRINT project will provide a springboard for additional funding and commercialisation of our services.”
Jadu Dash, Professor in Remote Sensing within Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton added: “We’ve been working on remote sensing for around 15 years, particularly with a view to monitoring different aspects of vegetation such as greenness and water content.
“In collaboration with Adept Communications, we’ll be bringing our experimental experience in remote sensing to this project, using satellites to source images and measurements that will inform their global monitoring.”