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Frequently Asked Questions: 

What kind of information is provided by watchITgrow?

WatchITgrow provides information on crop growth and development as observed from satellite images. From the greenness maps you can easily detect variability within your field and compare crops growing on different fields. By monitoring the weather data (temperature and rainfall) you can better assess the risk for production or quality losses at your fields. Finally watchITgrow also provides yield forecasts for your field. In addition yield forecasts are provided at the level of the municipalities, the provinces and the agricultural regions. You can also use watchITgrow to store your field data: general information such as the variety, planting date, date of haulm killing, harvest date or more specific information on treatments such as application of fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation,… When you take yield samples you can store the sampling results and visualize the expected yields in a graph.

How can I start to monitor my fields?

Under “My Fields” you can add your fields by clicking on the “+Add Fields” button. There are three ways to add fields:

  1. by selecting fields from an existing field layer (click on “Select”)
  2. by drawing fields (click on “Draw”)
  3. by importing field boundaries e.g. after planting with GPS (click on “Import”).

How to select parcels?

Under “My Fields” you can add your fields by clicking on the “+Add Fields” button. The “Select” button is activated by default. First you need to select the year. The fields from which you can select in that year are highlighted in blue. You can select one or more fields by clicking on the field(s). When you are ready you click on “Save”. Then you will be asked to provide for each field that you selected the local field name and the variety.

Where do the field boundaries for selection come from?

Flanders: The field boundaries that you see are the boundaries of the potato parcels that were declared as such to the Flemish government (these are publicly available data). When changing the year you will see that different parcels will become available for selection. For the ongoing year it may happen that (early in the season) the potato parcels are not known yet. In that case, you will see the boundaries of all agricultural parcels that were declared as such the previous year and you can start selecting your potato parcels from this layer. Wallonia: The field boundaries that you see are the boundaries of all agricultural parcels that were declared as such to the Walloon government in 2015 (these are publicly available data).

How to draw parcels?

Under “My Fields” you can add your fields by clicking on the “+Add Fields” button. When you click on the “Draw” button you can draw your field by clicking at the corner points of your field. When you are ready you click on “Save”. Then you will be asked to provide for each field that you drawed the local field name and the variety.

How to import fields?

Under “My Fields” you can add your fields by clicking on the “+Add Fields” button. When you click on the “Import” button you can drag and drop a .kml or a .zip file containing .shp+.shx+.dbf+.prj files with your field boundaries or browse to such files. When you are ready you click on “Save”. Then you will be asked to provide for each field in the shapefile the local field name, season and variety. You can enter these data separately for each field or you can copy the data from the shp file but selecting the corresponding name from the attributes list (e.g. the “field name” that you have to enter corresponds with the “name” attribute from the .shp file).

Import fields: which formats are supported?

Currently only .kml and .shp files are supported with coordinates in lon/lat (EPSG:4326 / WGS 84). The .shp files together with the .shx, .dbf and .prj files have to be zipped prior to upload.

I see differences between the field boundaries I have drawn and the field boundaries on recent greenness maps, why?

The satellite images that are used as background for drawing are satellite images from previous years. In the meantime the field borders may have changed. We therefore suggest to load the most recent greenness map for your field (via the “greenness” button) and edit the field borders so that they correspond with the field borders on the greenness map. Otherwise the greenness graph will not only represent the result of your field but also a part of the neighbouring field(s).

How to change borders?

Wherever you see your fields depicted on a map you can change the borders of the field simply by clicking at the field and selecting “Edit border”. We advise you to use the greenness map of the current season to check the field borders, especially when you selected them from an exising parcel map or when you drew them using an older satellite image. You can start changing the borders by clicking on that part of the border where you want to make changes. A point will appear. You can now drag this point to the right location. When you are ready you can save the edits by clicking on Save.

How can I find the fields I entered?

If you click on the “My fields” button in the main menu you will see the fields you have entered so far on the map. If you want a list of your fields you can click on “List”.

I see my field on the map, how can I get more info for my field?

When you zoom to your field and click on the field a pop-up window will appear. There you can do two things:

  1. edit borders
  2. add field data

If you click on “field data” you get an overview of your field.

I see my field in the list, how can I get more info for my field?

When you click on your field in the list a pop-up window will appear. There you can do two things:

  1. edit borders
  2. add field data

If you click on “field data” you get an overview of your field.

How can I enter my field data?

When you click on your field in the list or on the map a pop-up window will appear. There you can do two things: 1. view on map: to locate your field on the map 2. field data If you click on “field data” you get an overview of your field (general info, meteo graphs,…) and you can start adding your own field data.

Can I enter data for more than one field at the same time?

Yes, you can. When you go to the List of fields you click on the “Multi select” button. Now you can select the fields you want to edit. When you are ready you click “Edit” and you can start adding data for the fields you selected. This way you can for instance add planting date, variety,… for several fields in one action.

Another way to edit more than one field at the same time is to click on one parcel in the List and choose “edit multiple fields”.

Who can see the data I entered for my field(s)?

When you are entering data as a farmer (and owner of the data) you are the only one who can see the data. If you want to share data for a certain field, for instance with an agronomist or consultant, you can do this via the “Delegate” button. In that case, the person to whom you give permission can see and edit all the information that is available for this field. This person can also add new fields for you. In that case, you will see these new fields appearing in your list of fields. As a farmer you can withdraw this permission at any time.

Can I also see data from other fields?

You cannot see specific field data that have been entered by a farmer nor yield forecasts for a specific field unless the farmer gives you permission to view the data. From the satellite based greenness maps you can see other fields as the satellite images (which are publicly available data) are covering the whole country and provide a picture of all fields.

How to share field data?

First you need to go to your personal profile (top right of the webpage). Under “Delegate” you click on “+Add permission” and enter the e-mail address of the person you want to give permission to view and edit your field data. The actual data sharing is done on parcel basis. Therefore you go back to the list (or map) with your fields, select a field, and in “Field data” under “Delegate” you select the e-mail address of the person you want to share your data with and click on “+Add permission” and save. You can withdraw the permission at any time by clicking on the recycle bin and save.

What happens when I share data?

The person to whom you give permission can see and edit all the information that is available for the field you share. This person can also add new fields for you. In that case, you will see these new fields appearing in your list of fields. As a farmer you can withdraw this permission at any time.

Where do I find meteo data?

You can see temperature and rainfall maps by clicking on the “temperature” or “rainfall” buttons in the main menu on top.

Where do the meteo data come from?

Temperature and rainfall data are collected at weather stations and further processed and distributed by the Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute

How frequently are the meteo data updated?

The meteo data are updated on a weekly basis.

Where do the blocks in the meteo data come from?

Temperature and rainfall data are collected from more than 200 weather stations all over the country. The weather station data are interpolated to a “grid” of 5x5km in size. For temperature a simple average is calculated from the surrounding weather station measurements, with a correction for the altitude difference between the station and grid cell centre. Rainfall data are taken directly from the closest station.

What do the meteo maps represent?

The temperature and rainfall maps show the deviation of the actual temperature / rainfall with the average or normal temperature / rainfall on a weekly basis. The 5 classes in the legend are defined by analyzing the historical meteo archive. If a grid cell is classified as “much warmer / colder than usual” or “much wetter / drier than usual” it means that the temperature or rainfall in that grid cell belongs to the 20% warmest / coldest or wettest / driest observations in the history of that grid cell. For the other classes the deviations are smaller.

What is the meaning of the temperature and rainfall graphs?

The graphs show you on a weekly basis for your field:

  1. the average temperature (in red) compared to the long term average temperature (in grey)
  2. the rainfall sum (in blue) compared to the long term average rainfall sum (in grey)

Where do I find satellite images?

You can see satellite images by clicking on the “greenness” button in the main menu.

Can I also see satellite images of previous years?

Yes, you can change the year and get the history of satellite images of that particular year.

Where do the satellite images come from?

Today Sentinel-2A en 2B images are used in combination with DMC/Deimos-1 data. 

What is the spatial detail of the satellite images?

Sentinel-2 images have a pixel of 10x10m whereas DMC/Deimos-1 images have pixels with a size of 22x22m.

Why do you see more detail in some of the satellite images?

Currently we show a mixture of Sentinel-2 and DMC/Deimos-1 images. Sentinel-2 images have pixel sizes of 10x10m and show more details, whereas DMC/Deimos-1 data only have a pixel size of 22m.

How often do you get new satellite images?

The Sentinel-2 satellites pass every 5 days and in parts of Belgium even more frequently. To increase the chance of having cloud free observations DMC/Deimos-1 images are added. 

What is the meaning of the greenness map?

The underlying indicator is fAPAR. It represents the fraction of the sunlight that is used for photosynthesis. fAPAR is a measure of the crop’s primary productivity and is often used as an indicator of the state and evolution of crop cover. Low greenness index values (brown colour) mean that there is no crop growing on the field yet (bare soil). When the crop is growing the greenness index will increase (green colour) until the crop has reached maturity. Then the index will decrease again until harvest.

Why do I see different colours in the greenness map of my field?

Differences in greenness within a field indicate that crop growth may be variable within the field. Underlying causes may be diverse and can range from (natural) soil heterogeneity to climate induced problems such as drought or water logging, or local damages due to pests or diseases, emergence problems of seed potatoes, etc.

What is the meaning of the greenness graph?

The greenness graph allows you to monitor crop growth during the season and provides an indication on the development stage of the potato crop. The green curve in the graph below represents the greenness index. It shows you what the satellite measures. The pictures below show you what is happening on the field at the same time.

The greenness map is loading but I cannot see satellite observations for my field, why not?

Sentinel-2 and DMC/Deimos-1 satellite sensors cannot measure when there are clouds. When the satellite passes and the sky above your field is cloudy you won’t get a satellite observation.

How are yields forecasted?

Yield forecasts are based on crop growth models. These models use meteo and satellite data as input and require soil and crop/variety specific parameters.

How accurate will the yield forecast be?

Every year the yields model will be fed with more data and will become more and more accurate.

I don't find yield estimates for the current year, why not?

Accurate yield estimates can only be provided from mid-August onwards.

I don’t find yield estimates for the variety I planted, why not?

Currently we only provide yield forecasts for the three most common potato varieties in Belgium: Bintje and Fontane for processing, and Nicola for the fresh market. In the future other varieties may be added.

How do you take yield samples?

Protocol for yield sampling in potatoes

  • Period:

- Nicola: early July until harvest

- Fontane, Bintje: mid-July until harvest

Preferably also sampling just before harvest.

  • Frequency:

If possible, every 3 weeks.

  • Procedure:

Step 1: Sampling on the field

Per field 3 samples of 5 plants each are taken, well distributed over the field (outside the headland). The samples need to be representative for the field.

The tubers are stored in a plastic bag, separately for each sample. The plastic bag is labeled with the name of the field, the sampling date and the number of the sample (1-2-3).

Please don’t store the samples in the sun. You can store them in a cool place (max. 4°C) for 48 hours max. after sampling and before analysis.

Step 2: Analysis of the samples

Basic analysis: number of tubers, fresh weight and tuber size

- The tubers need to be washed first.
- Counting of the number of tubers per sample
- Determination of the total fresh weight of the samples: weighing the tubers per sample
- Determination of the tuber size per sample: % 35-50mm and % >50mm (in terms of weight and/or in number of tubers per size)

Additional / optional analysis: under water weight and dry matter content

After weighing, a subsample of 3-5kg of tubers is taken from each sample in order to determine the under water weight (only for tubers > 35mm) and the dry matter content.

During the first sampling rounds in July it may happen that you don’t have the minimum amount of 3 kg of tubers that is needed to determine the under water weight. In that case you can use the tubers of more than one sample.

The analysis of the yield samples / determination of under water weight and dry matter content can be done in collaboration with the industry, via the agronomists, or with the potato research centres in your region.

How to change languages?

To change the language of the application you go to your profile (top right of the webpage). Under “General” you can choose between English, French and Dutch.

How to change my password?

To change your password you go to your profile (top right of the webpage), to “Password”.

I cannot use the watchITgrow application on my smartphone, why not?

The current version of the watchITgrow application does not support screens smaller than 9 inches.

Where can I find the shadow map?

You can find the shadow map in the parcel info sheet, under “Shadow map”. The sheet can be accessed via “My Fields” by selecting the field on the map or from the list of fields and by clicking “Field data”.

How can I use the shadow map?

The shadow map indicates the sunny vs. shadowed parts of your field. You can use this map as input for variable rate planting. By planting less in the shadowed parts plants get more sunlight, water and nutrients compared to normal planting density and will result in higher yield.

The map is also a handy tool for creating green zones in the shaded field borders in the frame of the greening obligations.

Why don't I get a shadow map for my field?

Currently shadow maps are only available for Flanders. In the near feature these shadow maps will also be produced for fields in Wallonia.

The street map is not loading in Firefox. What can I do?

The latest versions of Firefox contain a strict security policy. Each requested certificate is checked. If this certificate is not valid, the browser will not load the requested URL. This means that, when the street map is not loaded, the MapBox requests are being blocked by Firefox. This issue can solved by telling Firefox to also include an additional certificate check by the operating system. To enable this check, please execute the following steps:

  • Open your Firefox web browser
  • In the navigation bar, type about:config and press Enter.
  • To continue, click I accept the risk.
  • In the search bar, look for the following property security.enterprise_roots.enabled. By default, this setting is set to false.
  • Double click this setting to set its new value to true.
  • Restart your browser and check again.

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