Identification of cropping activity in central and southern Queensland, Australia, with the aid of MODIS MOD13Q1 imagery

Publisher:
Elsevier
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 2012, 19 pp. 276 - 285
Issue Date:
2012-01
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Cropping activity has an importance that extends beyond farming communities, to governments, private industries, and to scientific research. We have developed a remote sensing-based method to detect arable cropping activity in central and southern Queensland, Australia, based on time series analysis of the NDVI layer of MODIS-Terra MOD13Q1 (250-m pixel) imagery. Local auto-regression was used to characterise phenological cycles in the NDVI time series. A random forest was then used to model three broad classes of agricultural vegetation (Grazing, Summer Cropping and Winter Cropping), as a function of phenological metrics and the local variance of the NDVI time series. The latter was found to be the most important distinguishing factor between the three classes. Pixel-by-pixel predictions of the random forest were obtained bi-annually for the study area over a 10-year period. Moderate agreement was seen between the predictions of the random forest and (independent) visual interpretation of Landsat imagery (Cohen's index of agreement, ?c, of 0.59). We then demonstrated how the random forest's predictions can be used to define the consistency of cropping activity at the spatial scale of an individual farm property; when compared with (independent) visual interpretation of Landsat imagery the agreement was also moderate (?c = 0.68). In comparison with other crop-mapping approaches in the literature, our results have been achieved: (i) without restricting the method to annual NDVI time series; (ii) without assuming that the time series is regularly spaced and periodic; (iii) by considering only the `greening-up phase of the phenological cycles.
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