The BELCAM webplatform was officially launched in August 2019. It offers free access to various products and services obtained mainly from satellite imagery. These products and services have been developed in partnership with farmers and support services (pilot and technical centres). They enable farmers or breeders to monitor the growth and development of their winter wheat, maize and potato fields or grasslands throughout the growing season and support them in their decision-making, particularly in relation to the management of nitrogen inputs and of risks. Among the available products, the prediction of nitrogen balance and evolution of nitrogen status during the season, the evolution of leaf development (using the LAI "leaf area index") and the possibility of comparing the growth of a field with that of its neighbours, and estimating the final yield, are particularly worth mentioning. The platform can also be used to view data for each plot obtained from the CRA-W Agromet webplatform. All available products are regularly reassessed and constantly improved on the basis of fresh field data. For example, an intensive campaign is currently being carried out with a view to further improving the assessment of nitrogen status and the estimation of potato yields.
The BELCAM agricultural advisory webplatform therefore plays a part in responsible agriculture concerned with reducing, through optimisation, the use of inputs (primarily nitrogen) and limiting their negative impact on the environment (for example groundwater pollution). For this purpose it relies on the new generation of European satellites with high spatial and temporal resolution (for example Sentinel missions), which enable characterisation on the scale of individual fields or even within fields. It also has the advantage of offering evolutionary products that meet the expectations of farmers and are adapted to the conditions in Wallonia.
Initially developed as part of a STEREO III project funded by BELSPO (partners: UCLouvain (sponsor), CRA-W, VITO and ULg-Arlon), the BELCAM platform has been exclusively managed and improved by a UCLouvain and CRA-W partnership since October 2019.
Creation of the platform would not have been possible without the help of farmers and partner support services (FIWAP, CIPF, CePICOP, CARAH, VEGEMAR, PCA, INAGRO, Hooibeekhoeve, LCG), not forgetting the non-profit association REQUASUD.