Hierarchical Satellite-based Approach to Global Monitoring of Crop Condition and Food Production

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 1:55 PM
Bingfang Wu, Rene Gommes, Miao Zhang, Ning Zhang, Hongwei Zeng, Wentao Zou, Yang Zheng and Nana Yan, RADI Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
The assessment of global food security goes beyond the mere estimate of crop production: It needs to take into account the spatial and temporal patterns of food availability, as well as physical and economic access. Accurate and timely information is essential to both food producers and consumers.

Taking advantage of multiple new remote sensing data sources, especially from Chinese satellites, such as FY-2/3A, HJ-1 CCD, CropWatch has expanded the scope of its international analyses through the development of new indicators and an upgraded operational methodology. The new monitoring approach adopts a hierarchical system covering four spatial levels of detail: global (sixty-five Monitoring and Reporting Units, MRU), seven major production zones (MPZ), thirty-one key countries (including China) and "sub- countries." The thirty-one countries encompass more that 80% of both global exports and production of four major crops (maize, rice, soybean and wheat).

The methodology resorts to climatic and remote sensing indicators at different scales, using the integrated information to assess global, regional, and national (as well as sub-national) crop environmental condition, crop condition, drought, production, and agricultural trends. The climatic indicators for rainfall, temperature, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) as well as potential biomass are first analysed at global scale to describe overall crop growing conditions. At MPZ scale, the key indicators pay more attention to crops and include Vegetation health index (VHI), Vegetation condition index (VCI), Cropped arable land fraction (CALF) as well as Cropping intensity (CI). Together, they characterise agricultural patterns, farming intensity and stress.

CropWatch carries out detailed crop condition analyses for thirty one individual countries at the national scale with a comprehensive array of variables and indicators. The Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), cropped areas and crop condition are associated to derive food production estimates.

Based on trends analysis, CropWatch also issues crop production supply outlooks, covering both long-term variations and short-term dynamic changes in key food exporters and importers.

CropWatch bulletin can be downloaded from the CropWatch website at http://www.cropwatch.com.cn.