"The WCDoA's CapeFarmMapper application has become synonymous with evidence-based and spatially informed decision-making in the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, " said the Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Dr Ivan Meyer, as the world celebrates GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Day on 16 November 2022.
GIS Day is an annual event held worldwide to celebrate the rapidly evolving technology of GIS. Initiated by spatial analytics world leader Esri (Environmental Systems Research Institute), it first took place in 1999.
Dr Ivan Meyer says that the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA) has been active in GIS for over three decades.
Dr Meyer said, "during that time, we have developed a vast resource of spatial information related to agriculture in the province. Analysis of the data regularly helps provide information to support decision-making amongst stakeholders, planning partners, our officials and management."
According to the WCDoA's GIS specialist scientist, Dr Mike Wallace, GIS allows us to integrate various data types from multiple sources.
Dr Wallace said, "GIS is used in almost every sector of the economy, science, and government. But, more specifically in agriculture, it can be used for many applications. These range from simple farm mapping to monitoring agricultural production with the aid of satellites, complex modelling of crops in response to natural resources and support management of natural disasters. In addition, GIS helps us understand how climate change will affect our world and keep tabs on agriculture's dynamic "footprint" in our province."
The latter is supported by a 4-yearly airborne census of agriculture (the so-called "Flyover") which places a wealth of information at the fingertips of our administrators & regional planners, agribusinesses, researchers, and producers.
Dr Wallace highlights the popularity of the WCDoA's innovative web application, CapeFarm Mapper (CFM).
The application allows free access to much of our local data to non-specialist users – even facilitating their production of report-quality maps.
Dr Wallace said, "GIS technology helps organisations track, analyse and visualise data in a way that has never been done before. As a result, it has become much more integrated into the mainstream IT infrastructure and architecture of many organisations – including the WCG".
"Our department is committed to mainstreaming GIS. We recognised the value of recording geographic location for its activities to facilitate spatial analysis and decision making, " concluded Dr Meyer.
Cape Farm Mapper can be accessed at: https://gis.elsenburg.com/apps/cfm/ or via the Agri-Tools menu on the department's website elsenburg.com.