Monitoring Crop Health from Space; Improving Drought Resilience for Farmers in Kenya

A high-resolution Vegetation Health Index (VHI) is proposed as an indicator of the water stress condition of vegetation cover. This index integrates satellite-derived vegetation and thermal information; it is a function of NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index, derived from Sentinel-2) and LST (Land Surface brightness Temperature, from MODIS). The VHI has already been tested experimentally for African environments (Rojas et al., 2011), exhibiting good performance, making it potentially suitable for insurance purposes.

This index informs a new satellite-based insurance scheme for Kenyan smallholder farmers. The proposed service is based on an online tool enabling rapid decision-making for compensations due to farmers. The tool shows VHI multi-temporal plots, tables and maps at 20m resolution, refreshed every 5 days. The service is undergoing an in-country trial for deployment to insurance providers, farmer cooperatives and Ministries in Kenya. This project is supported by grant funding within the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme.