Land cover map 2015
Land Cover plus: Crops © UKCEH;
UKCEH Land Cover® Plus: Crops © UKCEH. © RSAC. © Crown Copyright 2007, Licence number 100017572.

UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crop maps were the first detailed, interactive, digital maps of cropping in Great Britain. Two million land parcels are categorised within the Land Cover Map spatial framework, providing information on annual crop types for every field in Great Britain.

To date, UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crop maps have been produced for 2015 (partial GB coverage), 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023. Crop maps are available each autumn, with advance maps of Oilseed Rape accessible from August each year.

Developed in collaboration with Remote Sensing Applications Consultants Ltd (RSAC), the maps exploit satellite data - Copernicus Sentinel-1 C-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and, from 2016 onwards, Sentinel-2 optical data. 

The crops from 2016 onwards are winter wheat (including oats), spring wheat, winter barley, spring barley, oilseed rape, field beans, potatoes, sugar beet, maize, and improved grass. Other cereals, root crops, early potatoes, and vegetables are grouped in a class called ‘other’, together with a small number of parcels which could not be classified. From 2020, solar fields (sites with solar panels at ground level) are also included.


UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops is based on the Land Cover Map parcel framework. Every parcel which is larger than 2ha and categorised as agricultural land is coded with crop type information. Where parcels contain two or more crops, preliminary processing is applied to subdivide parcels into separate cropping units.


UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops has a wide range of applications:

  • Hydrological Modelling
  • Catchment Sensitive Farming
  • Plant Health and Crop Science
  • Crop Areas and Statistics
  • Control of Crop Subsidies and Levies
  • Agri-Business

Land Cover plus: Crops was developed in conjunction with Anglian Water. Water companies require detailed agricultural data for improved catchment modelling in the context of drinking water quality. Anglian Water’s assessment of UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops is that the maps have the potential for more accurate modelling of pesticide sources and transport pathways within catchments. The product "has the potential to enhance the current Drinking Water Safety Planning approach for diffuse agricultural sources of contamination in terms of hazard identification, risk assessment and risk management."

Up-to-date crop, national maps are a vital resource for those who safeguard our environment. Agriculture impacts directly on biogeochemical and water cycles, nutrient balances and hydrological and biological systems. Through a better understanding of crop distribution, crop rotations and their downstream consequences, changes in practice might be implemented to reduce pollution, conserve wildlife and control the spread of crop diseases.

Knowledge of crop distribution provides policy makers and regulatory agencies with better evidence to inform planning and decision making in areas as diverse as rural development, biofuels and food security.

UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops is an important source of information for Agri-business, providing advisors and suppliers with intelligence on the precise location of crops grown and in coming years with field-based information on crop rotations and changing cropping patterns.

Case Studies

Mapping accuracy

The Land Cover Map parcel framework, from which UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops has been created, is based on 2007 Ordnance Survey Mastermap® data. Field boundary changes are relatively infrequent and so the effect on overall mapping accuracy is quite limited.

Accuracy assessment of the crop classification was performed using independent data on crop types from farmer declarations for 2015 and 2016. Between 2015 and 2016, changes in apparent accuracy are likely to be due to different validation data rather than actual changes in the accuracy of methods.  Also, all accuracy figures are estimates because they were determined with reference to farmer crop declaration data which itself contains a degree of error. Quality control is embedded in the methodology and production of each year's data.

Click here to read further information on quality assessment results.

Product details

UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops are vector data, where each polygon represents a field or cropping parcel and is attributed with the crop class.

  • Scale: Minimum mapping unit is 2ha.
  • Supply Format: ESRI® Shapefile format
  • Coverage: Great Britain

As well as complete country coverage, customised products for specific areas and/or crop types are also available. 

Product availability

UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops data for the 2015 (partial GB coverage only), 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 cropping years are available.

Future annual maps will be available in November each year, with maps of only Oilseed Rape available in August each year.

Obtaining a licence for UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops

UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops is available under licence for internal business use, for academic research/education and for use in innovation and value added reselling. For Academic Research/Education only, UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops datasets are available for free via EDINA, specifically the Environment section.

If you licence UKCEH Land Cover® plus Crops data, UKCEH’s Land Cover® plus Fertilisers and Pesticides datasets are available for free.

To request a quote for a licence or ask for information, please email the UKCEH Data Licensing team, or click the link below to fill in our data request form.

Web form

Please fill in our form to request map data