Satellite imagery maps farm crops

Farmers are being asked to help assess the accuracy of new satellite imagery analysis which has been used to create interactive maps of crops in every field farmed in Scotland.

ScotGov’s experimental ‘Scottish Crop Map’ uses data from 2019 to predict the crop types using radar images from the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus Satellite Programme and to recognise the crops growing in nearly 400,000 fields in Scotland –and claims an accuracy rate of 85-90 per cent.

The map has been developed by the Scottish government’s Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services (RESAS), working in collaboration with EDINA at the University of Edinburgh, to process satellite data and tweak the results.

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Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said that, along with other digital innovations, the map would provide greater insight into rural land use.

“Future iterations of the map, combined with other datasets, could have a significantly broader scope of use, providing real time data that would help with community and farm level land-use planning and management.”

She said the maps could also be used to lessen some of the statistical surveys which farmers have to complete – but to help improve the accuracy of the map, farmers and crofters are being asked to review the current map and report any inaccuracies in the crop identified.

“Engagement with farmers and crofters with their local knowledge is vital and will help develop future iterations of the map and enable us to extend and enhance what the map could do,” said Gougeon.

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