Agriculture policymakers and businesses can now identify arable crops and grassland across Wales and Scotland via the CEH Land Cover® plus Crop Map 2015. The product, based on the 2015 growing season, is an important new source of information for agri-business, providing advisors and suppliers with intelligence on the precise location of crops grown.

Maps for England and Northern Ireland will be available soon.

CEH Land Cover® plus: Crops is the first detailed crop map of the entire UK. An early version (except Northern Ireland) was presented in March 2016.

The new Wales and Scotland maps have been extensively validated using land parcel data from each country. The final quality assurance showed a total accuracy across all crop classes of 97% for Wales, and 95% for Scotland.

Up-to-date crop maps are an important tool for farming and environmental policy-makers and regulatory agencies. Agriculture impacts directly on biogeochemical and water cycles, nutrient balances and hydrological and biological systems. Through better understanding of crop distribution, crop rotations and their downstream consequences, changes in practice can be implemented to bring about reduced pollution, wildlife conservation and improved control over the spread of crop diseases.

Vale of Glamorgan county borough in CEH Land Cover plus Crop Map 2015Detail from Vale of Glamorgan county borough in CEH Land Cover plus Crop Map 2015
Above: Vale of Glamorgan county borough outline (left) and detail (right) in CEH Land Cover® plus Crop Map 2015 (see key). © NERC (CEH) 2016; © Remote Sensing Applications Consultants Ltd 2016. © Crown Copyright 2007 OS 100017572

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Remote Sensing Applications Consultants Ltd (RSAC) jointly developed the CEH Land Cover® plus products, which map arable crops and grassland at the field-level. They combine CEH’s existing UK Land Cover Map with new analysis of radar satellite data from the European Copernicus Sentinel missions. They are among the first operational products to be obtained from the Sentinel missions.

Up-to-date crop maps are an important tool for farming and environmental policy-makers and regulatory agencies.

Dr Daniel Morton, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology’s scientific lead on the project, said, "It is very satisfying to be involved with this important work. This is the first project we are aware of to produce a national scale product of this kind using ESA's new Sentinel-1 satellites. Combining accurate cropping with land cover and habitat information will help us to understand how agriculture affects the ecology of the UK countryside and conversely the benefits and services, for example crop pollination, that healthy ecology provides agriculture. 

“With a better understanding of these interactions we can develop sustainable agricultural practices, benefiting farmers and wildlife whilst providing a secure food source for our growing population.”

Mike Wooding, RSAC, said, “The Sentinel-1 radar satellites provide frequent repeat images independent of weather conditions, so we can guarantee the production of our crop maps year-on-year. From this year, we are planning to have the annual crop maps available in October every year”.

Dr Nick Wells, Director of Innovation and Impact at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, said, “CEH Land Cover® plus Crop Map 2015 is a great example of industry collaboration with academia, delivering a tool to support policy-makers and businesses, as well as a platform for further research.”

Additional information

Contact datalicensing@ceh.ac.uk for further information on how to obtain CEH Land Cover® plus Crops. As well as complete country coverage, customised products for specific areas and/or crop types are also available.

For more information, see www.ceh.ac.uk/crops2015.

Watch a video highlighting information from the Wales Crop Map 2015

 

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