Hot Potato: Preserving Traditional Farming in the Peruvian Andes

Category: Monitoring Environmental Health and Disturbances
Project Team: Perú Climate II
Team Location: University of Georgia – Athens, Georgia

Landsat 8 OLI 6-5-2 band composite image highlighting agriculture in bright green. Image Credit: Perú Climate II Team

Landsat 8 OLI 6-5-2 band composite image highlighting agriculture in bright green. Image Credit: Perú Climate II Team

Authors:
Caren Remillard
Brandon Hays
Benjamin Page
Adam Salway
Sam Weber
Xuan Zhang

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA Langley Research Center)
Dr. Marguerite Madden (University of Georgia, Center for Geospatial Research)

Past/Other Contributors:
Caren Remillard (Center Lead)
Rebekke Muench
Kayla McDonald
Ryan Murphy
Michael Sclater
Richard Rose
Dajon Begin
Noel Baker
Genesis Abreu

Abstract:

Agricultural systems in tropical montane regions are particularly vulnerable in the face of global climate change. Anecdotal evidence from Parque de la Papa, located in the Peruvian Andes, indicates that farmers following traditional practices have moved potato crops to higher elevations seeking suitable growing conditions for the potato varieties they have cultivated for centuries. The primary threat to native potatoes has increased mortality rates stemming from pests and diseases. In particular, rising temperatures have led to increases in the population and habitat range of the Andean potato weevil, Premnotrypes spp. To assess support for the anecdotal evidence, the team quantified changes in potato field elevation over the past three decades using Landsat imagery. This cultivation time-series analysis, slope and elevation data from ASTER, and historical changes in precipitation and temperature was incorporated into a crop suitability model. This model was then used to predict optimal areas for potato cultivation and later given to the International Center for Potatoes (CIP) for use in a management plan to inform the farming efforts of the indigenous communities within Parque de la Papa.

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