The Agrometeorological Instrumentation Mast (AIM) system developed by Professor Michael Savage of UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) has continued to win accolades as an innovative teaching and agrometeorological tool, chalking up its fifth award at the recent Combined Congress of the Societies of Crop Science, Horticulture, Soil Science and Weed Science in Bloemfontein where senior author Savage accepted the award for the best paper published in South African Journal of Plant and Soil 2014.
Professor Mike Savage (centre) receiving his award from Vice-President of the South African Society for Crop Production Dr Diana Marais (right) and Mr Francois Olivier (left), Registrar of the South African Society of Crop Production
[Photo: the LOC Combined Congress Bloemfontein 2016]
This Congress award continues a winning streak in SAEES; the same award was won in 2014 by Savage for a paper on frost occurrence and duration for short-grass surfaces, and in 2015 by SASRI Chair of Crop Science Professor Hussein Shimelis for his paper on the topic of identification of agronomic and seed oil traits in the vernonia crop. The award is conferred by the Board of the South African Society of Crop Production (SASCP).
Real time mast
The title of this year’s award-winning paper is ‘Web-based teaching, learning and research using accessible real-time data obtained from field-based agrometeorological measurement systems’. The publication covers the rationale, detail, application and evaluation of the web-based data and information system as a tool to enhance understanding of physical concepts of the agroenvironment, and thereby accelerate teaching and learning processes.
Real-time data website
The AIM system has proved useful in providing easily accessible, near real-time agrometeorological data to the lay public and to students and staff in a range of disciplines. The paper also details the system’s capability in giving early warnings of phenomena such as Berg winds, floods and frost.
Savage’s work on this system was the subject of his cum laude Masters in Agriculture, which he received in 2014 despite having attained his PhD in the late 1970’s and a prestigious Doctor of Science in Agriculture degree in 2010. He was also awarded one of UKZN’s 2014 Distinguished Teacher Awards, thanks largely to his work using this system.
Data/Info for staff and students
The AIM system is the result of Savage’s quest to make his lecturing content more alive and comprehensible to students across language and cultural divides, as the system employs visual literacy techniques to translate the physical agroenvironment into the classroom.
Savage thanked the undergraduate students who assisted in the set-up phase of the system as its first users, as well as SAEES Technical Manager Mr Kamenthren Govender, the University’s Teaching and Learning Office (UTLO) and the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science (CAES) for their support.