Strengths and Limitations of Operational Use of 1 Km EO Biophysical Products for Regional Prediction of Grain Yelds in Europe (wheat, barley and maize)
Abstract:The site-specific relationship between EO indicators and actual crop yields has been explored in many different studies, describing semi-empirical regression models between spatially aggregated biophysical parameters or vegetation indices and observed yields (from field measurements or official statistics). However, when considering larger extensions –from countries to continents– agro-climatic conditions and crop management may differ substantially among regions, and these differences may greatly influence the relationship between biophysical indicators and the observed yields, which may be also driven by limiting factors other than green biomass formation.
The present study aims to better assess the contribution of EO indicators within an operational crop yield forecasting system in Europe and neighbouring countries, by evaluating how these above mentioned geographic differences influence the relationship between biophysical indicators and crop yield. We therefore explore, as a first step, the correspondence between fAPAR time-series (1999-2013) and the inter-annual yield variability of wheat, barley and grain maize, at sub-national level across Europe (270-450 Administrative Units, depending on crop). In a second step, we map the agro-climatic contexts in which EO indicators better explain the observed yield inter-annual variability, identify the influence of some meteorological events on the fAPAR -yield relationship and provide some recommendations for further investigation.
The results indicate that in water-limited environments (e.g. Mediterranean and Black Sea areas), fAPAR is highly correlated with yields whereas in northern Europe, crop yield appears much less limited by leaf area expansion along the season, and the relationship between yield and EO products becomes more difficult to interpret.