Industry-leading geospatial data analytics company Rezatec has announced it has partnered with Australian-based company Detection Services to bring its state-of-the-art satellite data driven asset risk monitoring solutions to Australia and New Zealand. Detection Services is the largest specialised, technology-based water … Continue Reading
Rezatec, the innovative landscape intelligence company, has been using it unique Earth Observation (EO) techniques to provide Portsmouth Water with detailed insights into potential sources of nitrate pollution in its catchment.
Rising nitrate levels in Groundwater have been a concern of Portsmouth Water for some years and the company has endeavoured to understand more about the sources of this pollution. On top of the rising trend, fluctuations in nitrate levels are often seen to be somewhat correlated to water table levels but it has been suspected that significant ‘spikes’ in nitrate levels at a few of its boreholes may be caused by overland flows terminating in the significant number of chalk pits and sinkholes that are found in a wide band crossing the area’s predominant chalk geology.
The Downs and Harbours Clean Water Partnership, a partnership between Portsmouth Water, the Environment Agency and Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme, which has been in operation since 2008, enlisted Rezatec to find out more about how the effects of agricultural landscape management could be affecting the both the sources of drinking water and the environment, particularly the protected habitats of Portsmouth, Langstone and Chichester Harbours.
The Partnership was not only interested in land management related to farming but also that related to equine use, e.g. horse paddocks, stable yards, and dung heaps, which can all produce varying localised sources of nitrate pollution. The latter was included, owing to the significant level of horse ownership in Downs & Harbours project/Portsmouth Water supply areas.
Rezatec looked at the Lovedean and Northbrook areas of Portsmouth Water’s catchment area and used Earth Observation techniques to provide data analysis of the likely overland flow of nitrates, as well as mapping general agricultural land use, including crops types, which can provide an indication on the amount of nutrients and pesticides that could be applied to the land and therefore have an impact on diffuse pollution. Rezatec then mapped these potential sources along with overland flow paths and sinkholes that allow nitrate pollution to enter the groundwater.
The results are presented in an interactive, online geo-spatial portal with dynamic maps and analytical risk analyses presented as user-friendly graphics and animations that allow Portsmouth Water to visualise their catchment area in a completely different way. This complements existing modelling of nitrate in groundwater and surface water systems by Amec Foster Wheeler, the environmental consultancy.
Rezatec can aid the work of catchment managers by identifying hotspots of potential agricultural and anthropogenic pollution, mapping these alongside the topographic and hydrological landscape features, particularly sink holes, and analysing all these parameters together to provide a dynamic risk assessment of the likelihood of diffuse pollution across the catchments. This knowledge can then be used as a decision support tool to help develop mitigation strategies for both the Downs and Harbours programme and Portsmouth Water, under its own developing Catchment Management strategy, and local farmers to reduce levels of nitrates in the catchment.
Alastair Stewart is the Project Manager of the Downs and Harbours Clean Water Partnership at Portsmouth Water. He commented: “Rezatec has taken an exciting and innovative approach that may greatly increase our understanding of the relationship between sources of diffuse pollution and the landscape and how this affects the quality of water in the area.”
Philip Briscoe, Marketing Director at Rezatec added: “At Rezatec we thrive on deriving new EO techniques to support water companies improve water quality and reduce operational costs associated with water treatment, ground surveys and compliance. The challenge that Alastair and his colleagues set us to identify sources of nitrate pollution and its interaction with the landscape really played to our skills and experience.”
Rezatec uses advanced, scalable techniques to offer what it has termed ‘landscape intelligence’, which takes large volumes of Earth Observation data and uses it to analyse environmental risk and changes in agricultural land use. Rezatec now works with five UK water companies, including Scottish Water, South West Water and Bristol Water, leading the market in supporting catchment and general water quality management by identifying potential threats to the water supply, in particular from different sources of diffuse pollution.
Bristol Water uses Rezatec landscape intelligence to support its water catchment management programme
Rezatec is deploying its landscape intelligence portal platform to work with Bristol Water on a ground-breaking project designed to gain a deeper understanding of the impact changing agricultural land use and soil erosion has on water quality in its catchment area.
The initiative has a particular focus on changing land use in the Blagdon Reservoir and Chew Valley Reservoir catchments. Rezatec’s portal based analytics process satellite and ground data to identify changing patterns of soil erosion and agricultural intensification, which have a significant impact on the quality of the water supply. The Rezatec landscape intelligence platform performs a forty year look back and processes data from 1972 to the present day so as to identify both short and long term changes in the landscape.
Landscape factors, such as agricultural practices related to specific crop types, can have a significant bearing on water treatment costs. Diffuse pollution associated with fertilisers and pesticides applied during the crop growth cycle can make its way into upstream water catchments through runoff and soil erosion, necessitating its removal downstream through expensive treatment so as to maintain the quality of the overall water supply. It is hoped that by identifying potential pollution risks before they become an issue, ongoing water treatment costs and the frequency of acute pollution events can be reduced, and requirements to invest in new water treatment infrastructure will be delayed or even avoided.
Matthew Pitts, Environmental Programme Delivery Manager for Bristol Water, said: “This new and exciting way of understanding our water catchments promises to bring valuable insights into how we can enhance the environment and manage risks to water treatment and supply.”
He added: “Using innovative, cutting-edge landscape analytics, we’re confident that we can gain a better understanding of the potential pollution risks within our catchment. This will help us to focus efforts towards achieving improved water quality in our reservoirs, bringing ecological benefits, reduced treatment costs and ultimately better value for our customers.”
Rezatec’s Philip Briscoe commented: “From our analysis of different sources of Earth, airborne and ground data, we derive high-value data products which provide our customers with business insight on a macro and micro scale. We’re delighted to be providing Bristol Water with landscape intelligence that helps them to make better business decisions to derive tangible benefits for both the company and its customers.”
The data products are accessible on a subscription basis to clients through Rezatec’s landscape intelligence portal that allows water companies to view detailed environmental information about their catchment areas, ultimately supporting informed business decisions. Rezatec analytics help manage risk to the water supply by monitoring changes to agricultural land use and peat and soil integrity at a local and regional scale.
As well as Bristol Water, Rezatec is bringing similar insights to other water companies and looks set to benefit many more in the coming months.
Rezatec featured on Farming Today, Radio 4 in response to big data release annoucement by Liz Truss, Defra
In response to the announcement today from Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for Defra, Rezatec featured on Farming Today, Radio Four to comment on the news that huge amounts of free environmental data to be released to help stimulate the farming and environmental sectors. Great for Earth Observation (EO) companies, such as Rezatec, who will be able to develop many more cost-effective apps for agri, water & environment sectors from yield optimisation to water and soil management. You can listen here: https://lnkd.in/ePxuCjx ‘More Turbulence for the Dairy Industry, Farming Big Data & Giant Hogweed’ starting at 2mins 57secs.
Scottish Water aims to use Rezatec peatland EO techniques to assist in protecting and improving source water catchments
Rezatec, the leading landscape intelligence data products provider, is working with Scottish Water on a proof-of-concept project to help assess peatland integrity across remote parts of their catchments to help protect and improve the quality of their source water.
High-resolution Earth Observation (EO) data, obtained mainly from optical and Radar satellite imagery, has been calibrated with spatial land cover and peat depth data to provide an accurate picture of peatland structure and integrity. Knowing the condition of peat can help Scottish Water focus any catchment activities.
Zoë Frogbrook, Technical lead for Catchment Management, Scottish Water said: “The use of earth observation data to assess peatland areas within our source water catchments will help us focus our activities to preserve important sources of drinking water. This not only helps to protect the environment but it will potentially reduce the cost of providing a clear fresh public water supply. If this project is successful then we may look at expanding Rezatec’s services across wider catchment areas.”
Patrick Newton, CEO at Rezatec commented: “Our combined processing of Earth Observation, UAV and ground data through the Rezatec platform is proving to be particularly useful for water utility companies wishing to take a cost-effective and scalable approach towards managing their water catchment areas. Peatland management is just one application that helps companies such as Scottish Water achieve these goals.”
Rezatec’s landscape intelligence platform offers a cost-effective way of measuring peat extent and how intact it is over wide and potentially remote areas that are otherwise expensive to measure or inaccessible from the ground.
Rezatec is bringing similar insights to other water companies and looks set to benefit many more in the coming months as well as in other sectors where its data products can also add value, for example, as a key part of the planning process for renewable energy projects, and, ensuring the quality and security of water supply for food and drink manufacturers.
Earth observation is increasingly being used as innovative method of mapping and monitoring the health of peatlands, and is more cost-effective than manual mapping, writes Philip Briscoe.
British satellite imaging company DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) today announced the completion of its Flagship project to develop a global system using Earth Observation (EO) satellite data to measure land carbon storage and how it changes over time.
The project, supported by Innovate UK (formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board) was developed with consortium partners Rezatec (Landscape Intelligence data services provider) and University College London (UCL), world-renowned remote sensing and carbon sequestration researchers.
The consortium was able to develop and deliver a unique approach to assimilating and transforming EO data from different sources and resolutions to calculate tropical forest carbon stock worldwide and provide a platform for carbon fluctuation modelling.
The project developed an online model representation of the tropical forest land class on a global scale.
The model uses Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) outputs, from the NASA MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument, combined with ground data to emulate contemporary forest land classification distribution across the tropical portions of the globe.
The model was designed to form the baseline for monitoring trends in forest cover and associated carbon stock quantification over time. The model software environment has been developed to assimilate ground data from multiple sources so that carbon stock calculations for a given area of interest can be further trained for enhanced local accuracy using minimal ground plots.
The challenge the project sought to overcome was in reducing the high levels of error and uncertainty inherent in using coarse resolution EVI/NDVI inputs to drive quantitative assessments of carbon stock.
Using a combination of highly optimised statistical processing algorithms developed by Rezatec on the CEMS (Climate, Environment and Monitoring from Space) facility at the Satellite Applications Catapult in Harwell and EO data modelling approaches developed by UCL and DMCii, error and uncertainty in this area has been substantially reduced.
Accurate carbon stock measurement is critical to effective landscape management in the bio-fuels, agriculture and forestry sectors. Using the model for online processing of user ground data can significantly lower the costs of carbon stock measurements and overall landscape monitoring. This is of particular economic benefit for use in supporting auditing mechanisms such as MRV (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) where physical audit costs are high relative to the tradable value of the underlying asset.
DMCii, focused on the data transformation element of the project, developing an EO processing system to produce high resolution surface reflectance data supported by a data and metadata repository which interfaced through an API to the main platform.
Rezatec was responsible for the construction of a global tropical forest carbon stock model using surface reflectance satellite data at varying resolutions as a key input for processing alongside other data sets such as digital elevation model outputs and biomass data
UCL focused on the scientific analysis of the carbon data at both the model level and the data sources used as inputs to the model to quantify the uncertainties involved and supply users with valuable quality assurance information.
DMCii Managing Director, Dave Hodgson, says: “We are committed to enabling better monitoring of global change from space. Together with a great team we’ve made big steps in pushing forward real products that can be applied to monitoring and measuring land carbon with commercial and national satellites.”
Patrick Newton, Chief Executive Officer of Rezatec, commented, “We are very pleased to have been invited to participate in this highly innovative project. The carbon stock data we have developed as a result of completing this initiative represent key components in our overall library of landscape intelligence data products and have use across all the sectors in which we operate.”
Professor Mark Maslin of University College London, concluded, “This project has allowed us to develop an accurate and cost effective means of annually monitoring tropical forest carbon storage and fluctuation. This will not only stimulate the global market in land carbon credits but will provide a means of measuring our effectiveness in protecting existing forest and reforestation. Both of which are essential if we are to prevent environmental degradation and reduce the effects of climate change.”
Business-led consortium addresses biomass ‘carbon impact’ issue
Biomass and bioenergy firms required to certify the origin and sustainability of wood biomass will now have access to more accurate data to support certification thanks to a new project involving Rezatec, a UK-based provider of remote-sensing based environmental data products.
Rezatec has developed a data service that extracts carbon estimates from high-resolution satellite imagery, or Earth Observation (EO) data. This service is designed to accurately measure the carbon impact of producing biomass from forests over extended periods of time.
A business-led consortium involving Rezatec, Drax, E4tech (project lead), and the University of Edinburgh has embarked on a nine-month project to help develop a service that will improve the commercial development of the biomass/energy industry, allowing businesses to prove compliance with sustainability criteria.
Forest carbon estimates
The project will assess the environmental impact of Drax’s wood pellet production from forest feedstock in North America. Using Rezatec’s methodology, optical, RADAR and LiDAR data will be linked with a dynamic tree growth model to help determine forestry carbon estimates.
Patrick Newton, CEO for Rezatec commented: “This pioneering project has the potential to change the future of the biomass and bioenergy industries by overcoming the challenges of obtaining cost-effective and accurate datasets to support sustainable obligations linked to forest biomass feedstock.”
“Working with businesses such as Drax allows us to help verify its carbon impact on the environment of biomass extraction and the positive work it is undertaking to ensure compliance. “This project can be used as a blueprint for sustainable biomass production around the world,” he added.
Nigel Burdett, Head of Environment for Drax said: “Drax Power will only purchase biomass that can be proven to be sustainably produced in accordance with our sustainability policy, and that exceeds thresholds set by the UK Regulatory Authority (Ofgem) for subsidy support.”
“We’re aiming to be the benchmark for knowledge around determining the temporal carbon flow consequences of biomass for energy. This will allow us to contribute positively towards a more ecologically sound environment as well as deliver on energy output requirements,” he continued.
“The use of environmental datasets, which includes accurate, high-resolution, time-based satellite imagery, helps address a specific business issue in the energy sector. As part of the UK’s Department of Energy and Climage Change Renewables Obligation, Drax is required to report on key aspects of biomass supply chains, to ensure reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrate sustainability.”
Dr Ausilio Bauen, Director of E4tech commented: “E4tech initiated this project as we believe Earth Observation data will be important in determining and monitoring the sustainability of biomass for energy.”
“Together with Rezatec, Drax and the University of Edinburgh we are developing a service that will be critical to the biomass industry in demonstrating its environmental credentials and possibly other sectors”, he added.