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Innovators III SMELLS

Soil Moisture for dEsert Locust earLy Survey (SMELLS)

The SMELLS innovator addresses research questions related to plagues of desert locust affecting severely the agricultural productivity and with that food security in Africa. The project focuses on synergy between observations of the SMOS and Sentinel-1 missions to derive soil moisture for detection of desert locust population outbreak or early upsurge stages before their population can expand into full-scale plagues.

Innovators III SMELLS
Soil Moisture for dEsert Locust earLy Survey (SMELLS)
DUE (Data User Element)
€ 200k
Service Demonstration
In progress
Sentinel 1 : C-SAR
SMELLS will implement an innovative approach to combine Sentinel-1 SAR data with thermal disaggregated SMOS-derived soil moisture to derive a soil moisture product at both high-spatial and high-temporal resolution to provide a new tool for decision-makers in the Desert locust preventive control system.
Remote sensing tools developed so far for Desert locust preventive control focus on vegetation levels and particularly on Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and derived products. Recent works demonstrated the possibility to forecast locust presence based on these remote sensing data. However, using vegetation status can lead Desert locust managers to a problem of temporal scale of prediction to decide when to send survey teams. Indeed, NDVI or derived vegetation greenness maps might arrive to the managers in a temporal frame at the same time than locust populations actually develop.
To be able to take earlier the decision to send survey teams, one solution is to have timely information about soil moisture, which precedes vegetation. Additionally, soil moisture is a very good indicator of reproduction potential of an area, since Desert locust females choose and need moist areas to lay their eggs. SMELLS will be a first attempt to include soil moisture information in the tools of Desert locust managers.
In this context, the main objectives of the project are:
  • the establishment of a dialogue between developers and desert locust monitoring users about their requirements related to soil moisture remote sensing,
  • the development of an innovative approach to derive high resolution Soil Moisture products from Sentinel-1 in synergy with SMOS data,
  • assessing the capacity of Soil Moisture to predict locust presence to be used in the framework of Desert locust preventive management.
IrsadSAT-UK, United Kingdom
CESBIO, France
FAO-DLIS : United Nation FAO-DLIS (Desert Locust Information Service)
Institut National de la Protection des Végétaux : Institut National de la Protection des Végétaux, Algeria
Centre National de Lutte contre le Criquet Pèlerin : Centre National de Lutte contre le Criquet Pèlerin, Mali
Centre National de Lutte Anti-Acridienne : Centre National de Lutte Anti-Acridienne, Morocco
Centre National de Lutte Antiacridienne : Centre National de Lutte Antiacridienne, Mauritania
Maria Jose Escorihuela IrsadSAT
Benjamin Koetz European Space Agency - ESRIN D/EOP-SEP Via Galileo Galilei I-00046 Frascati (RM) ITALY Tel: +39 06-941.80653 Email: