3rd Joint Call: DIRECTION

Cassava yields can be significantly increased through irrigation, but there farmers lack guidance on when and how to irrigate. DIRECTION project will study irrigation practices using a participatory approach and develop a mobile phone based decision support app.
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Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, will face major water scarcity problems in the future. Agriculture uses more than 70% of the consumed water in Thailand, and changing climate patterns have led to droughts and irregular rainfall in cassava growing regions. The challenge for Southeast Asia is to remain an important producer of agricultural crops while optimizing yields, manage water use efficiently, and guarantee a livelihood for farmers. Therefore an effective water management needs to be implemented. Especially, cassava growers are small-scale farmers with a low-income need to implement a sustainable use of resources including water. Cassava production can be significantly increased through irrigation, but solutions to optimize cassava yields need to be affordable and make effective use of limited water available.


The Project

The project brings together plant eco-physiologists, engineers, agronomists, extension workers and cassava farmers in a set of three participatory workshops in which we exchange knowledge, identify challenges and design solutions. We will test solutions and monitor results with recently developed on-farm sensor technology. One such solution will be model based irrigation. The model will use on-farm sensory data and weather data to make yield predictions and deliver information through a mobile app. Necessary plant physiological data will be collected in managed trials on experimental farms and in targeted greenhouse experiments. 


The Science

Plant Physiology: Cassava root systems are sensitive to soil water conditions affecting yield directly through storage root formation and loss (rot). Irrigation thus not only supplies the crop with water, but also steers its development. The project aims to get a more fundamental understanding of this interaction, and to develop relationships that can be used to improve model-based cassava yield predictions. 

Agronomy: The project explores better irrigation practices for cassava, and the applicability of such practices on real farms. 

Engineering: The project tests exploitation of low-cost sensors in real-world conditions and integration of sensor data into an easy mobile phone base app. 

Mathematical crop modeling: The project will develop a novel cassava crop model, with stronger foundations in root eco-physiology. 


The Team

The DIRECTION partners are:

  • Coordinator : Dr. Ir. Johannes A. Postma, Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Juelich, Germany
  • Asst. Prof. Dr Treenut Saithong, 2) Asst. Prof. Dr Saowalak Kalapanulak, 3) Dr. Warakorn Rattanaareekul & 4) Dr. Tanyarat  Khongkhuntian. King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Dr. Teera Phatrapornnant, National Electronics and Computer Technology Center, National Science and Technology Development Agency, Bangkok, Thailand (NECTEC / NSTDA).
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Poramate Banterng, Agronomy Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen 40002, Thailand
  • Prof. Le Huy Ham, Agricultural Genetics Institute (AGI / VNU), Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Science, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Dr. Wojciechowski. Forschungszentrum Jülich, Institute for Bio- and Geosciences (Plant Sciences, IBG-2), Jülich, Germany


Contact: Dr. Ir. J.A.Postma