New project to develop satellite mapping of growing crops

A new Defra-funded project is developing a way of using satellites in space to view crops in fields.

The two-year project is using remote sensing to create an annual crop inventory of England’s fields, which will be joined up with existing data for Wales and Scotland.

Crop information is currently collected annually from farmers via the June Agricultural Survey (JAS) and Single Payment Scheme (SPS). The JAS collates data on agricultural land use in the UK to a farm holding level.

It is a sample survey, with a full census once every 10 years. In addition, crops in England are only recorded under a very limited number of general crop types. In future years it is envisioned the survey effort will be reduced prompting the need for a new way of mapping crop type at a fine scale across England. 

The project is being led by Fera scientists, working in collaboration with the UK Space Agency and the Environment Agency as part of the EU Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) initiative.

The data will assist in responding to plant disease outbreaks, says Fera.

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