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Author: Waldner, François and Fritz, Steffen and Di Gregorio, Antonio and Defourny, Pierre

Mapping Priorities to Focus Cropland Mapping Activities: Fitness Assessment of Existing Global, Regional and National Cropland Maps

Journal: Remote Sensing
Volume: 7
Year: 2015
Number: 6
Pages: 7959--7986


Timely and accurate information on the global cropland extent is critical for applications in the fields of food security, agricultural monitoring, water management, land-use change modeling and Earth system modeling. On the one hand, it gives detailed location information on where to analyze satellite image time series to assess crop condition. On the other hand, it isolates the agriculture component to focus food security monitoring on agriculture and to assess the potential impacts of climate change on agricultural lands. The cropland class is often poorly captured in global land cover products due to its dynamic nature and the large variety of agro-systems. The overall objective was to evaluate the current availability of cropland datasets in order to propose a strategic planning and effort distribution for future cropland mapping activities and, therefore, to maximize their impact. Following a very comprehensive identification and collection of national to global land cover maps, a multi-criteria analysis was designed at the country level to identify the priority areas for cropland mapping. As a result, the analysis highlighted priority regions, such as Western Africa, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Southeast Asia, for the remote sensing community to focus its efforts. A Unified Cropland Layer at 250 m for the year 2014 was produced combining the fittest products. It was assessed using global validation datasets and yields an overall accuracy ranging from 82%–94%. Masking cropland areas with a global forest map reduced the commission errors from 46% down to 26%. Compared to the GLC-Share and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis-International Food Policy Research Institute (IIASA-IFPRI) cropland maps, significant spatial disagreements were found, which might be attributed to discrepancies in the cropland definition. This advocates for a shared definition of cropland, as well as global validation datasets relevant for the agriculture class in order to systematically assess existing and future cropland maps.


agriculture monitoring,cropland,global,multi-criteria analysis,priority mapping

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