Today FutureWater and HiView kicked-off stage 2 of the Nuffic TMT training course on ‘Crop models and remote sensing for water management in agricultural systems’ at Egerton University in Nakuru, Kenya. After a series of online training courses in stage 1 last year, this in-country follow-up training focusses on flying sensors (drones) for agricultural systems. The training will allow the staff to gain advanced skills in working with flying sensors and satellite-derived data to support agricultural and water-related challenges, such as pests and diseases, water efficiency in agriculture to enhance food security, and drought monitoring. 

Egerton University (Crops, Horticulture & Soils Department) is partnering with FutureWater and HiView (the Netherlands) to conduct a tailor-made training on ‘Crop models and remote sensing for water management in agricultural systems’. The training project for Egerton University is a Tailor-Made Training (TMT), as part of the Orange Knowledge Programme, funded by Nuffic and will enhance capacity in accessing and using innovative data and tools in the public domain, to analyse crop performance and irrigation management.

In March and April 2021 FutureWater, together with HiView, conducted a series of online training courses on flying sensors (drones), agricultural applications, hands-on processing and interpretation of aerial imagery, setting up a drone unit, the use of WaPOR to access remotely sensed derived data, and real water savings in Kenya. In the comprehensive course, HiView and FutureWater reached out to more than 260 participants. A team of four lecturers delivered nine training sessions, in a period of just over 5 weeks. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course was done completely online through FutureWater’s Moodle platform, dedicated to educational use. The participants received this new form of knowledge sharing enthusiastically.

After the online training sessions now a second in-country training will take place with a smaller group, focusing on the use of drones in agriculture. From 24 to 28 January 2022 a selected group of 15 to 20 members will be trained. To maximize the impact representatives from Egerton University, other institutes, ministries and private sector companies were invited. Focus will be on staff with lecturing responsibilities, to ensure impact on higher education provision and transfer of the new skills to students. For public sector representatives, the training objective is to obtain skills that can be directly and sustainably implemented in their respective organizations.

The current training will focus on the following aspects:

  • Piloting skills: Safety management and controlling the drone in manual and automatic modes
  • Image processing skills: Producing orthomosaics and crop stress maps and georeferencing
  • Skills regarding tools for imagery viewing and reporting
  • Knowledge about interpretation of the flying sensor imagery

The training is conducted by:

  • Martijn de Klerk, general director and flying sensor expert at FutureWater, the Netherlands
  • Jan van Til, operational director and certified drone pilot at HiView, the Netherlands
  • Veronicah Nyaguthii, AgPilot at ThirdEye Kenya
  • Purity Kinya, AgPilot at ThirdEye Kenya
  • Anthony Kibe, professor at Egerton University (training host)

Application of the new skills will be stimulated by assigning the participants clear, tailor-made goals at the end of the second training session, to be worked on during the distant-support period. After the second training stage, an online symposium will be organized for a larger audience including the superiors/managers (who most of the times are the final decision makers) of the training participants and representatives of similar organizations. During this knowledge sharing event, trainees and trainers will actively provide contributions to showcase the newly gained skills and their added value to the respective institutions and the Kenyan agricultural sector in general.

This project forms an important step in the capacity building strategy as it focuses on strengthening the universities and preparing them to provide high quality education to the future generation agronomists and agricultural managers, as well as upgrading the knowledge of current professionals. Overall, the Kenyan society at large will benefit from improved food security provided by well-educated agricultural researchers and professionals.

The team of trainers: Martijn de Klerk (FutureWater), Veronicah Nyaguthii (ThirdEye Kenya), Antony Kibe (Egerton University), Purity Kinya (ThirdEye Kenya) and Jan van Til (HiView).
Introduction in the classroom.
Instructions in the field.
Manual piloting by all participants.