Mexican COMPASS

Mexican Crop Observation, Management & Production Analysis Services System

An innovative project using satellite data to help Mexican smallholder farmers grow sugar cane and wheat with optimized crop productivity by identifying factors that cause the yield gap between crop potential and actual field performance.

Project Details

Project Start: December 2016
Duration: 4 Years
Target Country: Mexico
International Partners: 2
UK Partners: 3

About the Project

Mexican COMPASS is an IPP-UKSA funded project started during Dec’16. Rezatec and the University of Nottingham in the UK, supported by Booker Tate, are working with CIMMYT and COLPOS in Mexico to help smallholder farmers growing sugar cane and wheat to improve crop management. Mexican farmers need to improve crop productivity and stabilise their incomes to facilitate rural community economic development. The technology developed by this 4 year project will use earth observation satellite data (including data from Sentinel) along with in-situ data captured with the farmers to help them identify factors that cause the yield gap between crop potential and actual field performance.

The project will provide 7 customer specific decision support tools to help growers, including smallholders, improve their technical, environmental and financial performance. The project will also provide commercial information support, following trials, to advisory services, agribusiness, farmer co-operatives, crop insurers and governments to create a long-term income stream to support Rezatec’s provision of these services.

Project objectives:

  • Help wheat and sugar cane farmers in Mexico improve their crop management so that their incomes and income stability is improved to support rural development
  • Help the wider wheat and sugar cane industry, crop insurers and government agencies access improved information so that they can help develop the industry and facilitate investment
  • Develop and deploy a commercial decision support tool for wheat and sugar cane farmers and the wider industry in Mexico using space data to help deliver more detailed, more timely and more cost effective information to support management decision making

The overall challenge for both crops is to transform both traditional extensive as well as modern intensive systems into sustainable systems producing more crop output with better use of resources. This requires better management of the interacting parameters controlling yield. There are about 30 site-specific parameters grouped by soil, management, inputs and environment that can determine the production efficiency of wheat and sugar cane crops e.g. soil type, harvest date, disease control and temperature. The theoretical effect of these parameters on production is understood.  However, there are no practical, evidence based, management decision tools that support smallholders and larger growers by targeting production efficiency per specific field.

Providing a management decision support tool, informed by satellite and other data sources that is both practical and affordable for smallholders with low levels of formal education, will help them make better crop decisions and thus benefit their incomes and farm development.COMPASS aims to provide this solution.

Impact and benefits of compass:

  • Improved productivity, particularly for smallholder farmers, in two of Mexico’s major crops, wheat and sugar cane. ​

  • Improved resource use efficiency and hence lower emissions (of e.g., fertilizer nitrogen and GHGs) to the environment; through balanced application of inputs.

  • Improved market function as farmers, traders, government and other stakeholders will have improved information on likely crop yields, allowing much better planning of crop marketing, which helps to stabilise incomes.

  • Through improving technical and market performance, the project will assist rural economic development in Mexico, improve food security (wheat) and generate increased export earnings (sugar cane).

  • The project will also introduce a focus on managing crop performance enabled by a range of satellite data which is currently not used in Mexico, this stimulating the uptake of this innovative technology.  At present satellite data is only used for nitrogen management via the GreenSat system.

  • This international collaboration represents a new opportunity for the UK because:

  • It takes UK developed technology using space data and applies it to a new country, Mexico, and new context, tracking crop growth performance for smallholders growing wheat and sugar cane in a developing country.  Trials in the UK and Ukraine with sugar beet grower groups and sugar factories have shown the potential to increase yields using this technology by 5%.

  • Opens up new markets in Latin America for UK companies in an area with strong growth potential for the UK commercial and academic partners.