5th GEOGLAM RAPP workshop – Italy (Frascati), 2017

Our 5th international RAPP workshop took place in Italy, 16 & 17 May 2017, and was very successful.

ESA (the European Space Agency) hosted us at ESRIN, their Earth Observation center, in Frascati (Itlay), and we are very thankful for their hospitality and support with the logistics.

Group photo – GEOGLAM RAPP workshop in Frascati, 16th May 2017

More than 20 organisations (space agencies, universities, research centers, international organisations…) from all over the world were represented, including European partners (INRA from France, and JRC – Joint Research Centre of the European Commission),  IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), SANSA (South African National Space Agency), ILRI (International Livestock Research Institution), USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), Unicamp (University of Campinas, Brazil, funded by FAPESP, a scientific foundation of Sao Paulo), ESA (European Space Agency) and CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) of course as co-organizers, and others.

The workshop was a great opportunity to gather our RAPP community, meet and welcome new collaborators, and engage with new partners to pursue our efforts and improve our global rangelands monitoring system.

The presentations led to thought-provoking discussions around:

  • Definition of the rangelands and question on the masks to be used (esp on the RAPP Map) – still being discussed
  • How to best use the Copernicus-Sentinels satellites products to help monitor or validate EO data for rangelands and pasture lands, given the rising and global interest in rangeland and livestock production monitoring (new projects for ESA?),
  • Promising ways to process the Sentinel-1 (Radar) data for grassland biomass estimation (JRC, Estonia…), and the massive volume of data to process and generate global products would be a typical candidate for the “Data Cube” technology.
  • New data architectures (eg Data Cube) to help process the massive amount of data (RAPP as a pilot project in some countries?)
  • Integration of RAPP in European projects, such as the H2020 (see the “Balkans states’ Invictus” proposal by I-BEC), with a focus on rangelands and the establishment of a grassland pilot site in Europe (Hungary or Poland).
  • Use of remote sensing data on land cover condition as input to a new and innovative index for livestock insurance IBLI (Index-Based Livestock Insurance) developed by ILRI (Kenya).
  • Proposition of new pilot sites for RAPP: Hungary (I-BEC), Kenya (farm of ILRI), and other countries in Africa (with existing and established collaborations with FAO). Descriptions to be uploaded to the website soon.
  • Offer from SANSA (South Africa) to support the global coordination effort of RAPP: SANSA expressed the wish to get both a customised RAPP Map for southern Africa and a DataCube to help process the data.
  • UN SDGs links: in particular with “land degradation” measurements (indicator 15.3.1, see the CSIRO-led report for UNCCD), where the RAPP Map can also have a potential role, if/when global maps (data collections) of some of the key sub-indicators could be produced.

Many interesting comments followed the presentations, the discussions sessions were very productive, and other informal (but not less important) talks also took place during the breaks over these two days.

We would like to thank here again our RAPP colleagues who also joined us remotely from Argentina (Dr Carlos Di Bella, INTA), Australia (Dr Juan Guerschman, CSIRO, unable to travel), Brazil (Dr Laerte Ferreira, UFG), Colombia (Dr Miguel Arango, Corpoica), and the US (Dr Brian Killough, NASA).

The two days’ Agenda was filled with interesting presentations from the participants:

DAY 1 – Tuesday 16th May


9:00 Workshop official welcome from ESA – Introduction
Dr Benjamin Koetz (ESA)

9:20 Rangeland and Pasture Productivity (RAPP) updates
Dr Alex Held and Flora Kerblat (CSIRO, Australia)

9:35 GEOGLAM UpdateGEOGLAM RAPP Map (Online and interactive platform)
Michel Deshayes (GEO Secretariat)

9:50 GEOGLAM RAPP Map (Online and interactive platform) (REMOTELY)
Dr Juan Guerschman, (CSIRO, Australia)

RAPP updates (products, pilot sites) and EO requirements & strategy
10:45 Updates & upcoming activities on RAPP pilot sites (part I):

11:30 QUESTIONS/DISCUSSIONS ON PILOT SITES and on-going work validation


Updates & upcoming activities of RAPP pilot sites (part II):

13:50 Soil & carbon aspects in rangelands
JF Soussana (INRA, France)

14:20 QUESTIONS/DISCUSSIONS on pilot activities

15:15 Data Requirements Definition and Data Services Options for RAPPSentinel-1
(REMOTELY) Dr Brian Killough (NASA, and CEOS SEO, USA)

SENSORS sessions
Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3
Pierre Potin, Bianca Hoersch and Susanne Mecklenburg (ESA, Italy)

16:30 GROUP DISCUSSION on Sentinels supporting RAPP products
ALL ATTENDEES – Key technical characteristics and data requirements for an operational RAPP global monitoring system? Additional layers to the RAPP Map? Data Cube opportunities?

DAY 2 – Wednesday 17th May


Dr Alex Held, (CSIRO, Australia)
9:00 Local activities related to RAPP

  • Namibia – Progress with herbaceous biomass modelling (based on Modis NDVI and ALOS SAR data) and dry season fodder flow calculations – Dr Cornelis van der Waal (Agri-Ecological Services, Namibia) Namibia_part1 and Namibia_part2
  • Balkans – Promote the uptake of EO services and data in response to Balkan and Central Europe needs in order to contribute to the implementation of GEOGALM RAPP in this region of interest – Dr George Zalidis (University of Thessaloniki, Greece)

9:40 Crowdsourcing Farmer’s Data through A Mobile App [large file: IIASA_part1 and IIASA_part2]
Dr Steffen Fritz (IIASA, Austria)

10:00 Protecting livestock herders from the impact of drought: the Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) program – Dr Francesco Fava (CGIAR-ILRI International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya) [large file: ILRI_part1 and ILRI_part2]

10:20 GROUP DISCUSSIONS on applications & end users of RAPP, and in-situ measurements?

11:15 Hyperspectral products: example of application
Retrieving Rangeland Essential Biodiversity Variables using Hyperspectral Remote Sensing and the potential for Sentinels – A. Skidmore (ITC, Netherlands)  [large file: ITC_part1 and ITC_part2]

11:35 Example of Sentinel-1 use for grassland monitoring
Kaupo Voormansik (University of Tartu, Estonia)

11:55 Working with biomass data to assess livestock production in rangelands
Dr Anne Mottet/Felix Teillard (FAO, Italy)


Discussions and future activities for RAPP
14:00 UNSDGs and RAPP: opportunities for convergence (UNCCD work on the indicator 15.3.1 & Data cube) – Dr Alex Held (CSIRO)

14:20 GROUP DISCUSSIONS – New products and activities for RAPP
Potential pilot studies and sites for Sentinel-1-SAR grassland biomass product development and validation; Retrieval of
grassland quality, nutritional quality (hyperspectral requirements)?

15:30 GROUP DISCUSSIONS – Future Directions/Strategy and Wrap up
Recommendations for R&D activities for product development of biomass, grassland types; Data and capabilities needed for rangeland carrying capacity; New European partnerships (co-lead?); Future resources for advancing RAPP