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Monitoring agricultural lands via remote sensing

A Russian company automates the process of data collection to improve the management of agricultural lands and decrease the cost for land monitoring

In a bid to allow the government, enterprises and farmers to get most credible information about agricultural lands in Russia, Sovzond Company enabled FSUE, the main computer centre of Ministry of Agriculture of Russia, implement the system of state land monitoring in 2011-2012. The system consists of two subsystems; the agricultural lands atlas and the remote sensing monitoring system of agricultural lands.

Agricultural Lands Atlas (ALA)
Federal GIS Agricultural Lands Atlas (Federal GIS ALA) was created for the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation in order to provide government bodies and local authorities, legal entities and individuals with up-to-date information about agricultural lands. The ALA consists of four main parts:

»Survey field data collection system based on GNSS receivers and Mobile GIS platform: Mobile GIS is used for vegetation survey and agrochemical inspections. The Topcon GRS-1 was purchased for agrochemical specialists. The specialists go to the fields every year to collect data and fill in the form using these receivers. After this the specialists in the office only have to enter the collected data into the geodatabase without any additional processing.

»Storage of remote sensing data: Satellite images serve as the basis for agricultural land mapping and automated interpretation of vegetation condition. Remote sensing data is downloaded as map services in ArcGIS (or other GIS clients/applications) or as geotiff files using the portal download instruments.

»Agricultural lands geodatabase: It is used for automatic update of the central storage by exchanging data with agrochemists. Specialists digitise the fields’ borders using satellite images and fill in attribute data using rich client of ArcGIS Desktop and extra module for data quality control. This module prevents errors in attribute data. This kind of data is collected by 110 agrochemical service offices over the whole territory of Russia.

»Web-interface (geoportal): It is designed for data publication. Having logged in, all interested users can access the data which is stored in central geodatabase. It is also possible to make reports about the area of interest.

Up-to-date remote sensing data, spanning across the area of 580,000 sq km, was provided by RapidEye satellites for the purpose of agricultural lands inventorying and monitoring of local agrochemical services.

The following features are provided for web application users:

    Viewing satellite imagery data, special and thematic agricultural maps of different detail levels (types of agricultural lands, cultivated crops, reclaimed lands, degraded agricultural lands, etc.).

  • Map navigation and scaling.
  • Viewing information about the sites depicted on maps.
  • Searching for sites according to desired search conditions: name of a settlement, district, region or geographic coordinates.
  • Creating reports on the condition of agricultural lands at all detail levels (from a field to a federal district).
  • Field filter based on different criteria.

The ALA operates on ArcGIS for Server software platform as well as ArcGIS for Desktop with an additional module ‘agrochemical service tool’.

Remote Sensing Monitoring System of Agricultural Lands (SDMZ)
The Remote Sensing Monitoring System is developed to provide important information for planning, control and management of agro-industrial complex of Russia on the basis of advanced remote sensing data. The first stage of the Remote Sensing Monitoring System implementation was presented in three regions; Volgograd Oblast, Voronezh Oblast and Tambov Oblast.

The Remote Sensing Monitoring System includes 5 cycles of remote sensing of all agricultural lands (the period from April till November) and finally will cover about 4,000,000 sq km of agricultural areas of the Russian Federation.

The received information is extracted from satellite data (UK-DMC-2, Deimos- 1, Nigeriasat-X, RapidEye) along with data from other sources. It allows identifying valuable crop features used for the statistical assessment at all levels of the system: winter and spring crop land areas evaluation, germination rate and maturity estimation, evaluation of total area of arable lands, harvesting rate estimation, identification of abandoned and overgrown fields, determination of soil moisture and identification of eroded soils.

Remote sensing system is operated five times a season according to the main stages in the growing period:

  • The early-spring vegetation stage – estimation of winter crops state after overwintering.
  • The late spring vegetation stage – estimation of winter crops state, assessment of spring crops germination.
  • The middle summer vegetation stage — monitoring of winter crops harvesting, estimation of spring crops state.
  • The autumn vegetation stage — monitoring of spring crops harvesting.
  • The pre-winter vegetation stage — assessment of winter crops germination.

The Remote Sensing Monitoring System of Agricultural Lands includes the following subsystems:

  • Automated RS data supply.
  • Automated RS data processing.
  • Creation of statistic reports.
  • Field data input and data processing for detection of crops characteristics.
  • Automated crops type detection.
  • Automated determination of results of winter and spring crops harvesting.

A geoportal has been created with user-friendly interface for experts and specialists of the Ministry of Agriculture, as well as for farmers and agronomists, with different levels of network access to the information. Automation of data collection and processing allows increasing the rates of vegetation and soil data collection as well as the quality of the acquired data. It also decreases the cost for land monitoring and improves the effectiveness of agricultural lands management in Russia.