Malaysian agriculture industry looks at g-tech for a green growth

Malaysian agriculture industry looks at g-tech for a green growth

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Sabah: Increasing human population and the need for development is often associated to various disturbances which have led to deforestation. While remote sensing technology can help identify the extent of damages and the factors responsible, various other geospatial technology is helping Malaysia towards protecting their forest resources, aiding afforestation and also helping in precision farming.

In a presentation on identifying the drivers of deforestation in peninsular Malaysia using satellite imagery, Hamdan Omar, Research Officer, Forest research Institute, Malaysia explained how Landsat and SPOT 5 imageries between 1990 and 2010, with a five-year interval, were used to define the drivers. Omar, who was speaking at a session on Precision Farming and Forestry at the Malaysia Geospatial Forum here today, said Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia’s second largest state and with the largest forest cover, was selected as the study area. Preliminary results show that agricultural expansion was the main driver, he said. Further, the study is scheduled to begin regular field survey operations to support the project called ‘Reducing Forest Degradation and Emissions through Sustainable Deforestation Forest Management in Peninsular Malaysia’ before 2016 end.

Rosila Anthony, Head, GIS & Data Management Unit, Sabah Forestry Department, Malaysia, explained how geospatial technologies were incorporated in sustainable forest management, particularly timber harvesting planning in the Sabah Forestry Department. Technologies like remote sensing and GIS helped the department to generate forest resource/zone maps, land-use maps, which enabled it to estimate how much of what exists where and helped in accurate, timely and real-time data of forest resources for better planning and decision-making. The usage of GIS as a decision support tool for integration of remote sensing data greatly contributed to reliable and verified forest resource data to ensure the sustainability of forest resources, she said, adding the availability of high-resolution satellites has currently increased the use of remote sensing data for forestry application and the potential use of higher resolution data such as IKONOS, QUICKBIRD is currently being explored. The department is planning to further enhance the usage of RS-GPS-GIS for forest offences detection, forest monitoring, forest auditing etc.

Mohd Hasmadi Ismail, Associate Professor, Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Putra Malaysia, explained how LiDAR has emerged as cost-effective alternative to traditional surveying techniques such as photogrammetry. The Federal Land Development Authority in Malaysia, which has committed to use the advanced technologies in their operation, used LiDAR in palm oil replanting programme including agricultural road network planning, determining line and point planting positions. The results reveal that LiDAR has significantly contributed towards enhancing the productivity of the palm oil sector, he added.

Oil palm plantations are located on marginal areas on hilly terrain too and a precise representation of the surface model is required for effective management and decision making. “Traditionally, elevation data were obtained from examination of contour lines from topography map sheets. However, advancements in geospatial technology have seen remote sensing digital elevation models becoming the practical choice for its pixel-based format, thus making it easier to process,” said Mohn Zalan Mohd Zaki, Senior Scientist, Sime Darby Research. The selection of DEM from a reliable source is crucial for ensuring a balance between the cost and accuracy. Zaki also highlighted some of the ongoing works being carried out by Sime Darby Research in utilising DEMs from several sources such as the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (STRM), Advanced Space-borne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer Global Digital Elevation Model (ASTER-GDEM), NextMAP Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR), and Airborne LiDAR for planning and problem solving. The potential of UAVs will also be looked into, he added.

Mohd Hafiz Mohd Hazir of the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) explained how the organisation is exploring geospatial technology in rubber management, especially in the upstream sector. MRB has started deploying geospatial technology to help in decision making. Spatial information includes data on location, area, owner, yield, contour, weather, soil types, clone type etc. The MRB is also exploring precision farming technology for application of fertiliser and pesticides in the right place, at the right time and in right quantity.

Source: Our correspondent