Environment Systems is leading ‘EO4cultivar’ an international collaboration project with partners in the UK, Peru and Colombia.
Earth observation (EO) can provide timely field scale crop observations at regional and national scales for use in the high value South American agricultural market. By developing the ability to easily disseminate and incorporate EO data into local and national management practices, EO4cultivar will have real impacts on improving agricultural production and food security in Peru and Colombia.

Sources of free and commercial satellite imagery abound, but currently there isn’t the capability to process the data necessary to deliver national agricultural data services in South America. EO4cultivar will work with commercial and government stakeholders in Peru and Colombia to deliver information frequently and rapidly within the growing season via trusted channels. A cloud-based processing and storage infrastructure will be developed to deliver data services (analysis ready data), such as field-level time series imagery to both monitor performance and target management. Data services will also be used for crop identification to support biosecurity, resource planning and market intelligence needs.

The project is funded under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme, a £150M multi- year programme which will use people’s space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

DFMS – Uganda

Environment Systems is part of a team led by Rhea that is building a new Environment Early Warning and Mitigation Platform (EWP) that will enable an integrated chain of services and models called DFMS (Drought and Flood Mitigation Service) focused on improving sustainability in the Karamoja region of Uganda.

DFMS aims to provide accurate flood and drought predictions to farmers so that they are able to use that information to adjust their farming and livestock activities, reducing the losses they would otherwise suffer from flood and drought impacts. It will improve forecasting and decision making on resource use, input distribution, and timing of interventions in the face of increasing climatic threats.

Specifically DFMS will be supporting smallholding farmers producing staple crops in forecasting and real-time data collection. Water catchment monitoring is also an important feature as water is so important for livelihood, food security and health.

A strong technical team including AA International, UK Met Office, HR Wallingford, Databasix and Pixalytics will work together on the project. Environment Systems’ expertise in Earth observation, and data services will be utilised in the work packages concerned with platform implementation. This covers not only cloud based processing but also mobile and community platforms which will be important to monitoring, evaluation and learning as the project unfolds.

This project involves close collaboration with the Government of Uganda – Ministry of Water and Environment, local NGOs
– AgriTechTalk (Uganda), Mercy Corps (Uganda) and commercial interests – Kakira Sugar Company (Uganda) and Green Dreams (Kenya).

The project is funded under the UK Space Agency’s International Partnerships Programme, a £150M multi- year programme which will use people’s space knowledge, expertise and capability to provide a sustainable, economic or societal benefit to undeveloped nations and developing economies.

Environment Systems Data Services

Our new FREE and OPEN Data Services portal is now live. Here you can sign up and download Sentinel-1 Radar imagery of anywhere in Great Britain, for the four most recent seasons. These are available as open data, and can be used for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. We will soon be adding Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) to our product offering.

Sentinel -1 Radar imagery can be downloaded for the whole of Great Britain
In addition to being able to access imagery, ‘Time Series’ data based on Eurostat LUCAS point locations provide average data measurements for each of the four seasons, giving you an insight into how the radar response changes over time. In its next iteration, due in Spring 2017, we will be introducing a premium service, which will enable a subscriber to upload their own shapefile or use a polygon tool to select specific areas of interest and then select points in time from which to download imagery from, as well as custom Time Series and Feature Analysis.

This is an exciting development for the company. There will be significant development effort in the coming months as we bring on more data and analysis options and this is just the start. The Sentinel 2b satellite was launched in early March 2017 which further enhances a new era for Open Data and the proliferation in the use of EO in multiple applications.

Turkey’s LPIS

Environment Systems has provided one of four ‘experts’ for the external quality control of a project to create a Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) for Turkey. The project has now reached a critical stage. A complete set of orthophotos has been provided for the whole of Turkey, forming a huge dataset of over 50,000 individual images and almost one petabyte of data.

A team of over 200 digitisers is working with the orthoimagery in a huge exercise to create a seamless geodatabase of reference parcels (agricultural blocks) covering the whole of Turkey’s agricultural surface and non-agricultural areas, in total almost 784K sq km. It is the single largest land cover digitising exercise in the whole of Europe.

Typical Turkish landscape outside Ankara
Our man on the ground, Chris Finch, is working in a small External Quality Control team (EQC), whose role is to ensure that the data provided meets EU JRC criteria for the quality requirements for an LPIS. The work involves evaluating a sample of all reference parcels digitised across the whole of Turkey, including automatic, thematic and visual controls.

Turkey is a huge and agriculturally diverse country. There is a large arable and cereal sector (including rice and tobacco), major citrus fruit, wine and olive production, and with large areas of nut (hazelnut, walnut, almond and pistachio) and tea production. There are also extensive high biodiversity grasslands and forests. Mapping and classifying this diversity presents many challenges, especially within a limited timescale, and provides Environment Systems with a set of unique skills ideal for future land cover digitising projects anywhere in the world.

Spatial Analysis for Area Statements

In 2016 Environment Systems was involved in a pilot mapping project for Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as part of its SoNaRR (State of Natural Resources Report) initiative. SoNaRR aims to be the first country-wide assessment of the health and resilience of ecosystems and the first assessment of the extent to which Wales is sustainably managing its natural resources. SoNaRR will also confirm the link between natural resources and the 7 well-being goals set out in the ‘Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.’

SoNaRR requires specialist spatial analysis of natural resources and ecosystems, in terms of both ecological resilience and the ecosystem services received from them. Under the new Environment Act there is a requirement for regional Area Statements to set out information to help people implement the Welsh Government Natural Resources policy. Following the pilot in 2016, Environment Systems and its partners embarked upon the next phase to expand the required spatial analysis element of this work. We are producing a framework and contribute to the Area Statements through the use of a number of defined use cases and scenarios to assess the resilience of natural resources and the opportunities for their management when faced with a range of threats. The methodology applied to the Area Statement spatial analysis starts from the basic premise that every parcel of land (or water) in Wales exerts an influence on every ecosystem service delivered. This is based on four main factors:

The land cover or habitat type and its condition
The geology and soil type underlying the land
The landscape context (e.g., on a steep slope or valley bottom)
How it is managed, i.e. none at all, little, intensive, extensive

This is an approach we have been pioneering elsewhere both in the UK and Ireland. Rather than focus on any one tool for the production of a specific set of maps, this project will seek to identify and formulate a framework that will help decision makers to take a holistic, ecosystem approach to the environment and to highlight the most beneficial, current options available to them.

Finally we have been commissioned to to incorporate the output from newly available datasets to create an ‘exposure mask’ for the whole of Wales. This covers frost risk, wind blow and salt spray in the coastal zone.

Ystradiffin Hydropower

Environment Systems’ Ecology Services team has been helping Hydro Electric Development Ltd with the evaluation of a new hydropower development on the Afon Twyi river in Carmarthenshire. Harnessing the power of the Afon Twyi approximately 1.6 km downstream of the Llyn Brianne Reservoir and dam has the potential to produce 1.8 MW (9000 MWh a year) electricity. The electricity generated would be fed into the local National Grid network and provide clean renewable energy to the mid-Wales region.

The Ecology Services team has provided baseline ecological surveys including:

  • Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey
  • National Vegetation Classification (NVC)
  • Lower plants survey
  • Breeding bird surveys
  • Otter and water vole surveys
  • Badger Surveys
  • Bat surveys

Surveys have been designed to support an Ecological Impact Assessment (EcIA) and Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA). This was used in the preparation of the Nature Conservation chapter of the Environmental Statement to support the wider Environmental Impact Assessment.

Laterly the team has prepared a Habitat Management Plan, Working Methods Statements and Otter Mitigation Strategy to satisfy NRW queries and suggested planning conditions.

TOPMETS – Timely Open environmental METricS

Environment Systems is developing a ‘freemium’ web-based data platform that will provide access to near real-time satellite derived environmental data products. The project follows a successful bid through ODINE (Open Data Incubator for Europe).

ODINE is funded with a €7.8m grant from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme and aims to support the next generation of digital businesses to fast-track the development of their products.


TOPMETS will provide Freemium access to near real-time satellite derived environmental data products, available via a web dashboard. With this ‘freemium’ business model basic services are provided free of charge to non-specialists while more advanced services aimed at professional users must be paid for. These data service offerings are only available because open data greatly lowers the barriers to entry thus, when applied to satellite derived Earth observation products, there is an opportunity for a new ‘disruptive’ business model that provides local scale environmental monitoring.

An initial England-wide pilot area will be commercially operational by Q1 2017. Open satellite data will include Sentinel 1 & 2.

The Environment Systems team that will deliver the TOPMETS project