Towards the Development and Validation of a Global Field Size and Irrigation Map using Crowdsourcing, Mobile Apps and Google Earth Engine in support of GEOGLAM

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Steffen Fritz1, Jon Nordling1, Linda M See1, Ian McCallum1, Christoph Perger1, Inbal Becker-Reshef2, Sander Mucher3, Lieven Bydekerke4, Petr Havlik1, Florian Kraxner1 and Michael Obersteiner1, (1)IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria, (2)University of Maryland College Park, Geographical Sciences, College Park, MD, United States, (3)Wageningen UR, Wageningen, Netherlands, (4)VITO, Mol, Belgium
The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) has developed a global cropland extent map, which supports the monitoring and assessment activities of GEOGLAM (Group on Earth Observations Global Agricultural Monitoring Initiative). Through the European-funded SIGMA (Stimulating Innovation for Global Monitoring of Agriculture and its Impact on the Environment in support of GEOGLAM) project, IIASA is continuing to support GEOGLAM by providing cropland projections in the future and modelling environmental impacts on agriculture under various scenarios. In addition, IIASA is focusing on two specific elements within SIGMA: the development of a global field size and irrigation map; and mobile app development for in-situ data collection and validation of remotely-sensed products.

Cropland field size is a very useful indicator for agricultural monitoring yet the information we have at a global scale is currently very limited. IIASA has already created a global map of field size at a 1 km resolution using crowdsourced data from Geo-Wiki as a first approximation. Using automatic classification of Landsat imagery and algorithms contained within Google Earth Engine, initial experimentation has shown that circular fields and landscape structures can easily be extracted. Not only will this contribute to improving the global map of field size, it can also be used to create a global map that contains a large proportion of the world’s irrigated areas, which will be another useful contribution to GEOGLAM. The field size map will also be used to stratify and develop a global crop map in SIGMA.

Mobile app development in support of in-situ data collection is another area where IIASA is currently working. An Android app has been built using the Open Data Toolkit (ODK) and extended further with spatial mapping capabilities called GeoODK. The app allows users to collect data on different crop types and delineate fields on the ground, which can be used to validate the field size map. The app can also cache map data so that high resolution satellite imagery and reference data from the users can be viewed in the field without the need for an internet connection. This app will be used for calibration and validation of the data products in SIGMA, e.g. data collection at JECAM (Joint Experiment of Crop Assessment and Monitoring) sites.