New Focus on Monitoring Soil

There is nothing new about monitoring soil in arid conditions. South Africa and Israel have been doing it for decades. However climate change has increased its urgency as the world comes to terms with pressure on the food chain. Denizon decided to explore trends at the macro first world level and the micro third world one.

In America, the Coordinated National Soil Moisture Network is going ahead with plans to create a database of federal and state monitoring networks and numerical modelling techniques, with an eye on soil-moisture database integration. This is a component of the National Drought Resilience Partnership that slots into Barrack Obama’s Climate Action Plan

This far-reaching program reaches into every corner of American life to address the twin scourges of droughts and inundation, and the agency director has called it ‘probably  … one of the most innovative interagency tools on the planet’. The pilot project involving remote moisture sensing and satellite observation targets Oklahoma, North Texas and surrounding areas.

Africa has similar needs but lacks America’s financial muscle. Princeton University ecohydrologist Kelly Caylor is bridging the gap in Kenya and Zambia by using cell phone technology to transmit ecodata collected by low-cost ‘pulsepods’.

He deploys the pods about the size of smoke alarms to measure plants and their environment.aa Aspects include soil moisture to estimate how much water they are using, and sunlight to approximate the rate of photosynthesis. Each pod holds seven to eight sensors, can operate on or above the ground, and transmits the data via sms.

While the system is working well at academic level, there is more to do before the information is useful to subsistence rural farmers living from hand to mouth. The raw data stream requires interpretation and the analysis must come through trusted channels most likely to be the government and tribal chiefs. Kelly Caylor cites the example of a sick child. The temperature reading has no use until a trusted source interprets it.

He has a vision of climate-smart agriculture where tradition gives way to global warming. He involves local farmers in his research by enrolling them when he places pods, and asking them to sms weekly weather reports to him that he correlates with the sensor data. As trust builds, he hopes to help them choose more climate-friendly crops and learn how to reallocate labour as seasons change.

Photo courtesy of Scientific American

Are Master Data Management and Hadoop a Good Match?

Master Data is the critical electronic information about the company we cannot afford to lose. Accordingly, we should sanitise it, look after it, and store it safely in several separate places that are independent of each other. The advent of Big Data introduced the current era of huge repositories ‘in the clouds’. They are not, of course but at least they are remote. This short article includes a discussion about Hadoop, and whether this is a good platform to back up your Master Data.

About Hadoop

Hadoop is an open-source Apache software framework built on the assumption that hardware failure is so common that backups are unavoidable. It comprises a storage area and a management part that distributes the data to smaller nodes where it processes faster and more efficiently. Prominent users include Yahoo! and Facebook. In fact more than half Fortune 50 companies were using Hadoop in 2013.

Hadoop – initially launched in December 2011 – has survived its baptism of fire and became a respected, reliable option. But is this something the average business owner can tackle on their own? Bear in mind that open source software generally comes with little implementation support from the vendor.

The Hadoop Strong Suite

  • Free to download, use and contribute to
  • Everything you need ‘in the box’ to get started
  • Distributed across multiple firewalled computers
  • Fast processing of data held in efficient cluster nodes
  • Massive scaleable storage you are unlikely to run out of

Practical Constraints

There is more to Hadoop than writing to WordPress. The most straightforward solutions are uploading using Java commands, obtaining an interface mechanism, or using third party vendor connectors such as ACCESS or SAS. The system does not replace the need for IT support, although it is cheap and exceptionally powerful.

The Not-Free Safer Option

Smaller companies without in-depth in-house support are wise to engage with a technical intermediary. There are companies providing commercial implementations followed by support. Microsoft, Amazon and Google among others all have commercial versions in their catalogues, and support teams at the end of the line.

Speak to Denizon Next

It is unwise to rely on a backup you either do not trust or do not fully understand. We have business continuity consultants with a breadth of experience that’s worth considering. Following a risk assessment we’ll provide you with cost effective solutions, that take the worry out of backup so you always feel secure.