Mobile phones and other handheld technologies are changing the way and speed with which we gather information, interact with one another and understand the world around us. The agricultural community is similarly impacted by new technologies. For example, improvements in crop productivity are accelerated through the use of sensors and analytics to monitor crop and environmental factors that guide crop breeding and management decisions. Unlike mobile phones however, these agricultural technologies are not within reach of all farmers. Recognizing this, the Collaborative Crop Research Program (CCRP) supports the development and distribution of accessible resources to support agroecological intensification (AEI) research and development.
The PhotoSynQ project led by Michigan State University is a three-year recipient of CCRP funds and is addressing the accessibility gap in a big way. The project team developed a platform (www.photosynq.org) that dramatically lowers barriers to access and use of sophisticated crop monitoring technologies by dramatically reducing their cost while tailoring their functionality to the needs of researchers such as those in CCRP. A cloud-based network connects researchers, extension personnel, development practitioners and farmers; and is used in conjunction with a MultispeQ instrument - a sophisticated, inexpensive and easy-to-use hand-held sensor. The MultispeQ measures a wide array of key environmental and plant performance parameters such as temperature, moisture, carbon dioxide and more.
In an effort to disseminate the tools the PhotoSynQ team recently met up with more than a dozen researchers from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso for a two-day workshop. Meeting participants learned how to take MultispeQ measurements, create their own projects and interpret photosynthesis data. Some participants were able to take MultispeQ instruments home from the conference, so that they can start their own pilot projects. Read more about the meeting at: https://blog.photosynq.org/2017/08/25/introducing-photosynq-to-scientists-in-west-africa/