GIS for Rice Field Management

GIS for Rice Field Management


The Malaysian department of agriculture has
adopted innovative rice mapping solutions which
helped it in the overall production of paddy

Spot-5 image for classification of paddy
Spot-5 image for the classification of
current active paddy and non-paddy area

Rice is the staple food not only for Malaysians, but for
most of the Asian countries. Growing paddy and increasing
rice production have been part of major agricultural
development strategies in Malaysia. At present, Malaysia
has achieved a level of self-sufficiency in rice production at
about 71.7% (2013) of the local consumption.


Paddy at field level always faces challenges of monitoring and
management as it involves large land area coverage with limited
manpower for the extension works. This creates difficulty
in field observation, which later reflects on the rice production.
The rise of sectors like industrial and tourism have led to the
increasing development of structures like building etc. which
further put pressure on the land use of an area. These changes
are difficult to detect by on-site verification in wide land coverage
due to manpower limitation. This affects the reporting of
actual acreage of active paddy parcel. Also, any irregularity in
the productivity during the growth stages is hardly detected.

There are four major activities during paddy’s growth period,
namely land preparation, irrigation, planting and harvesting.
In case of any irregularity like late/early irrigation and delayed
planting, the effects are visible at the end of production, when the
production is lower than expected.


In order to overcome these constraints and manage paddy at field
level, the Department of Agriculture collaborated with Malaysia
Remote Sensing Agency to establish an application for rice mapping
and monitoring using GIS and satellite imagery.

A field cadastral map acquired from the Department of Survey
& Mapping Malaysia (JUPEM) is integrated with the profile of
entrepreneurs by individual lot, to establish an updated base map
with integrated details of the entrepreneurs according to the individual
lot number. The project area chosen were the eight granary
areas at Peninsular Malaysia, namely IADA (Integrated Agriculture
Development Area) Kerian, IADA Kemasin Semerak,
IADA Pulau Pinang, IADA Seberang Perak, IADA Ketara,
IADA Barat Laut Selangor, KADA and MADA. Granary in
Malaysia refers to major irrigation scheme, where the area is
greater than 4,000 hectares and recognised as the main paddy
producing areas.

An integrated cadastral map is overlaid with the
high-resolution satellite images of 0.5m-1.0m resolution to
determine the actual planted area, and distinguish the paddy
and non-paddy (fish pond, roads, others) fields. The current
planted paddy area can be calculated and the actual acreage
can be obtained. This way maps prepared using GIS tools are
integrated into the system, and can be viewed with limited
access according to the necessity level of the users.

Satellite imagery is not only used for mapping the geographical
information of the paddy parcel, but also to monitor
and observe the activities during the growth stage, starting from
land preparation to harvest. In this case, radar images were used
to monitor the status of all four activities mentioned. The images
are updated every 11 days. The status of all the four activities
(land preparation, irrigation, planting and harvesting) can be
monitored at an 11-day cycle to the extent by individual lots
without on-site observation and manual verification.

The current trend of technology implementation will enhance
the trend of agricultural management, especially of rice.
This systematic management of paddy fields and other activities
enables farmers to develop strategies to increase the production.


The Department of Agriculture is working towards further
expanding the scope of using geospatial technologies to other
potential crops in Malaysia. GIS and remote sensing solutions
are expected to provide a promising future not only to the
agricultural sector, but also to other sectors which elevates the
competitiveness among the developing countries.

Pandak, Bin Ishak and Sutha V
Department of Agriculture, Malaysia