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The importance of Environmental Characterization in the Central West Region of Senegal

The Digital Tools, Geospatial and Farming Systems Consortium (DGFSC), funded by The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL), investigated about “Soil and Climate Characterization to Define Environments for Summer Crops in Senegal.”

Carlos Hernandez, a researcher from the DGFSC, explained that “the project focuses on trying to understand how environmental drivers affect crops, especially the summer crops that have an especially key role in the food security in Senegal.”

To lead this investigation, Carlos used different data sources as remote sensing data and soil samples for delineating different homogeneous zones in the central west zone in Senegal.

“In this case, we selected the principal component analysis to summarize the spatial variability and use the outcomes from this methodology. We also used spatial cluster analysis to delineate the different zones, and we applied this methodology to both soil and climate in a separate way”.

During the investigation, the process had some limitations, for example, “the lack of temporal data in the soil samples, textural data like sand or clay, and geo-reference data of crop productivity data.” For this reason, the researchers focused on using the main variables that can affect the summer crops.

In our project, we could find the most important variables of climate and soil that explain the spatial and temporal variability. In the case of soil, the most important variables were the Total carbon, Total nitrogen and the cation exchange capacity. On the other hand, for the climate variables only were analyzed the evapotranspiration, cumulative rainfall, and the average temperature, all of these in monthly terms.

Carlos highlighted that “one of the more complex challenges was understanding how the different zones are linked with the crops, and how the soil and climate variables impact the distribution of the crops in the central west part of the country.”

Finally, the digital tools and using soil and climate data allowed the characterization of different areas with contrasting soil and climate patterns in Senegal. These results will be critical for developing strategic planning and identifying the management that enhances productivity through the use of different technologies.

In the future, “we believe that the integration of different types of data will result in better crop production and more efficient management of the environmental risk, guaranteeing food security, and contributing to a better quality of life for the people of West Africa” concluded Carlos.

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