« Talking roots » to improve food security in Burkina Faso
A wireless sensor technology adapted to local climatic conditions tells the small producers of semi-arid regions in Burkina Faso the proper time to irrigate according to the crop’s needs, resulting in significant larger yields and water savings.
Thanks to an innovative irrigation management system jointly developed by EPFL and the start-up Sensorscope, local producers in Ouahigouya, Northern region of Burkina Faso, have increased their yield by 40% while using 20% less water during the 2012 dry season. Water is scarce in semi-arid regions, and small producers rely on irrigation to grow crops during the dry season, which usually occurs between October and May. Drip irrigation allows for water savings compared to traditional irrigation, but knowing the exact time to irrigate according to the crop’s needs allows for even more water savings. Providing the crop with the proper amount of water at the proper time helps prevent crop loss, saves water, and improves yields.
Wireless hydro-meteorological stations adapted to local conditions
Launched in November 2011, Info4Dourou 2.0 is a Research & Development project, which is led by the Cooperation & Development Center (CODEV) and financed by the EPFL, the Swiss agency for Cooperation and Development, and the Velux Foundation. Developed in collaboration with local engineers in Burkina Faso and the National Agency for Meteorology, this new technology is based on low-cost meteo stations that use wireless technology to automatically transmit data. Hydro-meteorological measurements are then available in real-time to local users via the cell phone network and a web interface.
Towards locally made automatic stations – creating a platform for reliable weather data collection
Stations also provide reliable weather data openly available on the web for many applications such as water management, agronomic conditions control, erosion management, land use and planning, and reforestation. Ten of these new stations have been installed in different locations of Burkina Faso and are currently being tested for different applications. The installation and maintenance of the system is assured by local engineers. In fact, the system has been designed with the perspective of being produced, assembled, and commercialized locally.