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Monitoring agricultural resources in Europe-crops

Last updating 1999

Contract nr: FAIR-CT96-1996
Project nr: 1996
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/01/1997
Duration: 28 months
Total cost: 562,000 EUR
EC Contribution: 332,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Marie-Françoise SCHARLL
Research topic: Plant health
Acronym: MARIE-C

Crop yield forecasting techniques based on surface information have major disadvantages when applied regionally. The input data is often of limited precision and spatial resolution. Producers of the data do not always allow for a spatial assessment of a phenomenon (e.g. rainfall) and some input data itself consists of estimates ( radiation from cloud cover or sunshine hours). Meteorological satellites can provide information which has a relatively direct relation to crop growth and in addition is of a synoptic nature.

The prime objective of the present project is to investigate the contribution of meteorological satellite data to more timely, objective, efficient and accurate crop yield assessment in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. In this way the project may contribute to the project `Monitoring Agricultural Statistics with Remote Sensing' (MARS) of the EC Joint Research Centre and the needs of DG VI and the European Statistical Office (EUROSTAT) Problem. Two approaches may be used, based on NOAA and METEOSAT respectively.

The NDV derived from the NGAA satellite is a measure of crop coverage and biomass. The yearly course of the NDVI may be related to the onset of growth and crop development. NDVI curves have been used for crop-yield estimation in the UK and elsewhere. A second approach to crop growth makes use of METEOSAT and is based on the proportionality between actual evapo-transpiration and C02 assimilation. Methods have been developed to monitor actual evapo-transpiration on the regional and continental scale using METEOSAT. Such information has been coupled to simple growth models to estimate savannah biomass and cereal production in Africa.

In this project we will investigate the potential of NOAA-NDVI and METEOSAT-derived radiation and actual evapo-transpiration data, in combination with appropriate crop growth models, for crop yield estimation in Europe and the Mediterranean basin during the period 1993-1997. The synergy of the combination of the two approaches will also be analyzed with a focus on the Iberian peninsula. Results will be validated with existing meteorological and crop yield data. Finally, the utility of the results for incorporation in operational crop forecasting schemes will be evaluated.

Methods are developed to map and monitor crop growth conditions in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. There is a need for this kind of information in the European Community and at the national level. Potential users are DG VI 'Agriculture and Fisheries', the European Statistical Office (EUROSTAT), corresponding national authorities, and the MARS project. Some of the (potential) benefits of this project are as follows: METEOSAT and NOAA data are synoptic and allow for a yield assessment that is compatible with all countries.

The data and methodology proposed are objective. The methodology is based on monitoring and this means that up-to-date information is available at any moment of the growing season. The timeliness of yield estimates based on meteorological satellite data can be very high, i.e.within a few days. The approach has the potential of being economic since relatively low manpower is involved. Crop yield estimates are not restricted to EC but may in the same fast and economic way be obtained for other countries.

Andries ROSEMA
Ingenieursbureau voor Environmental Analysisand Remote Sensing B.V.
Kanaalweg 1
P.O. BOX 449

NL-2628 EB Delft
Tel.: +31 15 56 24 04
Fax: +31 15 62 38 57


  • Paul VOSSEN
    Joint Research Centre of the EC
    Via Enrico Fermi 1
    P.O. Box 440
    I-21020 Ispra (Varese)
    Tel.: +39 332 178 98 09
    Fax: +39 332 178 99 36

  • John TAYLOR
    Cranfield University
    Silsoe College
    UK-MK45 4DT Silsoe-Bedford
    Tel.: +44 1525 86 30 57
    Fax: +44 1525 86 30 99
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