Vanilla Surveys using QField

By Ahi Saipaia (1), Leody Vainikolo (1), and John Duncan (2 and 3)
1 Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Food, and Fisheries, Government of Tonga
2 UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia
3 Geography and Planning, The University of Western Australia

A field survey of vanilla plantations on Vava’u, an outer island in the Kingdom of Tonga, using QField was conducted in May and June 2020 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Food, and Fisheries (MAFF).

Vanilla is an important commercial crop in Vava’u. The purpose of the survey was to map the extent of vanilla plantations and obtain estimates of the numbers of vanilla plants, area under vanilla cultivation, and the proportion of plantations that were managed or neglected. This information is being used by MAFF on Vava’u for agricultural planning and decision making.

Extension officers were trained to use QField at MAFF’s trial plantation. Following training, a team of seven extension officers conducted the survey of vanilla plantations. In total, 140 vanilla plantations were surveyed. The survey data was processed and visualised using QGIS and a Shiny dashboard application. QField enabled MAFF staff to view reference layers of farm boundaries on mobile devices in the field and map the extent of vanilla plantations within each farm. Maps of the vanilla plantations and summary statistics reporting the number of vanilla plantations, total area surveyed, and the estimated yield for plantations were produced.

Capturing this information using QField enabled MAFF to identify that large areas under vanilla cultivation were in a neglected management condition. This data, and the insights generated from it, were used for reporting at the national level and presentations to senior ministry staff at the MAFF headquarters on Tongatapu in July 2020. Following the vanilla survey, there are plans to train MAFF extension staff based on the main island (Tongatapu) and other island groups to use QField for crop and farm surveys. The MAFF team in Vava’u are currently using QField to map areas cultivated by grower groups, the different crops under cultivation, and problems farmers are facing with cultivation in all districts on the island. The government is using this information as part of a process to monitor and evaluate allocated funds that support farming initiatives and the food security program of the Government.

Acknowledgements

The project was funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR; ASEM/2016/101).

MAFF Officer, Selimoti Fetokai, doing the vanilla survey using QField
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Extension Officers, Tangaki Aloua and Selimoti Fetokai, looking for the exact location of the vanilla plantation before the plot survey.

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Entering attribute data into QField such as number of vanilla plants and block sheet and lot number which identify land parcels.

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