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The above Figure shows an example of the loss of field crops and is drawn from a report done by BFAP for the Maize Trust in 2012 named “The impact of coal mining on maize production – a pilot study in the Ogies, Leandra and Delmas area”. From the map it will be seen that many variations in data were collected, some of which include current area under cultivation, production outputs, type of crops cultivated, areas being affected, arable potential of soils, average rainfall per pixel and climatic factors, such as heat and frost units.

The abovementioned data elements can also be included in the BFAP farm-level model to run possible future scenarios. The current fields of spatial analyses available within the BFAP team are currently being vastly updated in term of functionality and resources, which will enable the carrying out of more GIS-related studies, which are further connected to our sector and farm-level models.

The ESRI ArcGIS software package used by BFAP equips us with the necessary analytical framework to essentially provide a range of spatial modelling and analysis tools. Spatial Analyses done by BFAP involve, but are not confined to, the following examples of outputs:

  • Finding suitable locations for new farms or farmland, based on evidence-based, spatial and practical research.
  • Performing land-use analysis, based on crop classifications and crop densities.
  • Analysing transportation costs and optimisation routes.
  • Calculating and displaying cost of production per region or district.
  • Performing crop output analyses, which are further linked to economic models of sustainability.
  • Comparing related statistics and incorporating them into functional maps, to make the outputs accessible and to a wider audience.

Our process involves meeting customers to define their data needs, specific project requirements, required outputs, and to finally develop a model to apply spatial data to their specific research need. We work with geographic information systems (GIS) to solve problems, present data, and store very useful information in ways more functional than are possible in ordinary Excel spread sheets.

Data is gained through continuous collaborations and conducting new research to locate and obtain existing databases, and to further add value to them. An integral part of what we try to accomplish involves integrating spatial data for agriculture and resource-driven sectors and further determining how best the information can be displayed – the aim is to display data in a more useful or reader-friendly format. We use geographic data compiled from a variety of sources, including censuses, field observations, satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and existing shape file maps. Future advances include analysing spatial data for geographic statistics for incorporation into documents and reports.