Thursday, June 17, 2021

Mapping Crops from Space

In Germany the Earth Observation Lab at Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin has used satellite data to create the first time-series map of agricultural land use in Germany. The Map of German Agricultural Land Use shows which crops were grown where in Germany for the years 2017, 2018 and 2019.

To create the map the Earth Observation Lab used machine learning processes with satellite imagery from the US Landsat 8 satellite mission and the Copernicus program of the European Space Agency (ESA). The lab also used already available information on previous land use by farmers. 

The map itself uses different colors to show the dominant types of crops and the main types of arable land use, i.e. all the main types of grain, root crops, vegetables, permanent crops and legumes. In addition the map features a date control which allows you to select which year's crops you wish to see visualized on the map.

In Scotland the Rural & Environmental Science and Analytical Services (RESAS) and the University of Edinburgh have created the Scottish Crop Map 2019, to show which crops are grown where in Scotland. The Scottish map uses satellite data from ESA to show which crops were growing in nearly 400,000 fields in Scotland during 2019.

The Scottish map shows four main crop types (Spring Oats, Winter Barley, Winter Wheat & Spring Barley), and grassland. As well as mapping where these four types of crop and grassland are grown the Scottish Crop Map includes a bar graph view which shows the area of land devoted to each crop. Grassland is by far the biggest use of land on the map, while Spring Barley is the crop which is grown on the largest area of land. 

If you are interested in what types of crop are grown in the United States and elsewhere in Europe then you can refer to the OneSoil map. OneSoil is an interactive map which provides insights into European and US crop production. The map shows which crops are being grown where, revealing local and global trends in crop production. In total the maps shows what crops have been grown on over 60 million fields in the EU and the US over the last five years.

The OneSoil map was created using AI algorithms to detect the types of crops being grown around the world from satellite imagery. The algorithms are able to recognize 19 different crops with a 92 percent accuracy. OneSoil is also able to analyze from this same imagery the development stage of the crops being grown.

Using the interactive map you can view the top crops being grown in each country or region. Select a country on the map and you can see how many hectares of farmland are given over to each type of crop and the average field size for each type of crop. You can also filter the map by individual crops to show where different crops are being grown in the USA and the EU. Using the date filter you can then view the crop distribution for the last five years. This enables you to see how crop distributions have changed over these years, at both the local and global level.

If you are interested in which crops are grown in the USA then you might also like Bloomberg's The Consolidation of the American Harvest which maps where different crops are grown in America. At the global level Esri's The Living Land explores how much land is given over to different crops around the world and RTBMaps shows where different root, tuber and banana crops are grown across the globe. 

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