Alterra Wageningen UR has been awarded an important framework contract (MARSOP4) to support the European Commission in monitoring crop production and food security around the globe. Alterra will manage and process global agro-meteorological data sets and provide customized information 24-7 in near real time.
Development of the MARS Crop Yield Forecasting System (MCYFS) started in 1989 and the agro-meteorological components were built by the former Winand Staring Centre (predecessor of Alterra). In the late nineties the European Parliament ratified an EU regulation acknowledging the MCYFS as an effective instrument in support of Agriculture and Food Security policies. Since 2000 Alterra leads a consortium in charge of the operational running of this system through 4 successive contracts (MARSOP1-MARSOP4). It includes various activities over the main grain producing areas as well as the food insecure regions worldwide:
- Acquisition of meteorological data (station, forecast models, satellites) and maintenance of a meteorological database
- Application of agro-meteorological models (WOFOST, crop specific water balances) to determine how daily weather affects crop growth
- Acquisition and processing of low resolution satellite data to assess vegetation health
- Visualization of weather and crop indicators
Forecasts on food production
From the MCYFS infrastructures the European Commission generates evidence-based information and forecasts on crop production and early warnings on food security. Moreover the various databases are fundamental to assess effectiveness, efficiency, relevance of policy measures according to their impacts on rural environment, biodiversity, food security or climate change adaption / mitigation.