prof.dr. A.D. Nelson (Andy)

Full Professor

About Me

I am a Geographer specialising in the management, development and leadership of spatial research on agricultural systems, food security and their relation to natural resource management. 

My research has focused on how spatial information can be combined with other sources of information to provide better, faster and more detailed data on the "where", "when", "how" and "how much" of agricultural production. I use remote sensing data and GIS models to characterise and monitor crop production situations to estimate crop area, seasonality, production and losses.  Food security is not just about production. I work on accessibility models to determine the cost or travel time between producers, markets and consumers, since physical access is core component of food security assessments. I also work on environmental assessment tools.


Crop Losses
Time Series
Time Series
Time Series Analysis
Imaging Techniques
Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer


  1. I have a broad range of research interests related to food security and spatial agriculture. These include areas for PhD research as well.

    • Spatial and temporal analysis of optical and SAR imagery for crop detection and characterisation.
    • Yield estimation from remote sensing and crop simulation models.
    • The use of spatial and temporal data for crop health applications.
    • Detection and mapping of crop management practices and mapping suitability for best management practices (technology targetting).  
    • Applications of remote sensing for crop insurance.  
    • Spatial accessibility models.
    • Environmental monitoring with temporal remote sensing data. 

    I currently co-Chair the CODATA Roads Task Group for global roads data development and I am on the Advisory Board for the FP7 ERMES project. I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

  2. My research started in Latin America but I have worked extensively in Asia for the past 8 years, and continue to work in Sub Saharan Africa.  I have also contributed to global mapping projects (population, transport networks, elevation and accessibility). 

    My PhD is in Geography from the University of Leeds, UK and I consider Geography to be a licence to study anything anywhere. I have spent most of my career working for international, multi-disciplinary research institutes starting as a junior research fellow in 1996 at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, then as a spatial analyst in the Development Economics Research Group at the World Bank in Washington DC, then as a scientific officer in the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Italy, and as head of the GIS lab at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.  I have also held various consultancies with UNEP, FAO and the World Bank.  

    I now lead the Spatial Agriculture and Food Security research theme in the Department of Natural Resources (ITC-NRS).


Paliwal, A., Laborte, A. G., Nelson, A. D., & Singh, R. K. (2018). Salinity stress detection in rice crops using time series MODIS VI data. International journal of remote sensing, 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/01431161.2018.1513667
Sparks, A. H., Nelson, A. D., Garrett, K. A., Gilligan, C., & Pembleton, K. (2018). Upscaling models, downscaling data or the right model for the right scale of application? : abstract. Abstract from International Congress of Plant Pathology (2018), Boston, United States.
Nelson, A. D., van Etten, J., & Weiss, D. (2018). Mapping inequality in access to resources in R : powerpoint + abstract. FOSS4G 2018 : Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, United Republic of.
Nelson, A. D., Savary, S., Willocquet, L., Esker, P., Pethybridge, S. J., & McRoberts, N. (2018). Assessment of crop health and losses to plant diseases in world agricultural foci : powerpoint + abstract. s1-s36. International Congress of Plant Pathology (2018), Boston, United States.
Nelson, A. D., Savary, S., Willocquet, L., Esker, P., McRoberts, N., & Pethybridge, S. J. (2018). Mapping the extent of crop pests & diseases and their associated yield losses : powerpoint. s1-s21. Building resilience against crop diseases: a global surveillance system (GSS)”, Bellagio, Italy.
Calumpang, L., Bayot, R., Bibar, J. E. A., Gutierrez, M. A., Nelson, A. D., Laborte, A. G., ... Asilo, S. (Eds.) (2018). Philippine Rice Information System: Operations Manual, Volume 2. Philippines, Los Banos.
Calumpang, L., Bayot, R., Bibar, J. E. A., Gutierrez, M. A., Nelson, A. D., Laborte, A. G., ... Asilo, S. (Eds.) (2018). Philippine Rice Information System: Operations Manual, Volume 1. Philippines.
Savary, S., Nelson, A. D., Djurle, A., Esker, P., Sparks, A. H., Amorim, L., ... Willocquet, L. (2018). Concepts, approaches, and avenues for modelling crop health and crop losses. European journal of agronomy. DOI: 10.1016/j.eja.2018.04.003
Weiss, D., Nelson, A. D., Gibson, H. S., Temperley, W., Peedell, S., Lieber, A., ... Gething, P. W. (2018). A global map of travel time to cities to assess inequalities in accessibility in 2015. Nature, 553(7688), 333-336. DOI: 10.1038/nature25181

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I teach in the Natural Resources Management Specialisation of the ITC Master's in Geoinformation Science and Earth Observation.

Module 4 - Introduction to natural resources management
Module 5 - System analysis for natural resources management 
Module 8 - Monitoring of natural resources 
Module 11 - Research skills 
Module 12 - RS/GIS analysis methods to support food and water security studies

Affiliated Study Programmes




I lead the research component of the Ethiopian Education Network to Support Agricultural Transformation (EENSAT) project. EENSAT is an innovative capacity development project to strengthen the use of geo-data for agriculture and water to enhance food security and socio-economic development in Ethiopia in line with the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) priorities at the participating Higher Education and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutes.

I led a small project on field boundary detection methods within the Geospatial and Farming Systems Research Consortium (GFC) coordinated by Dr Robert Hijmans at UC Davis California.  

I work with colleagues at INRA, Penn State, Cornell University and UC Davis on a global crop health survey to assess the crop losses due to pests and diseases in five major staple crops; wheat, maize, rice, soybean and potato. 

I work with colleagues in Oxford University, Google and the European Commission on accessiblity mapping.  The Global Map of Accessibility characterises the connectedness of the human landscape by illustrating the amount of time it takes to access the nearest densely populated area.

Contact Details

Visiting Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
ITC (building no. 75), room 4-144
Hengelosestraat 99
7514AE  Enschede
The Netherlands

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Mailing Address

University of Twente
Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
ITC  4-144
P.O. Box 217
7500 AE Enschede
The Netherlands

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