Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

A framework for disaggregating remote-sensing cropland into rainfed and irrigated classes at continental scale

December 15, 2023

Agriculture consumes the largest share of freshwater globally; therefore, distinguishing between rainfed and irrigated croplands is essential for agricultural water management and food security. In this study, a framework incorporating the Budyko model was used to differentiate between rainfed and irrigated cropland areas in Africa for eight remote sensing landcover products and a high-confidence cropland map (HCCM). The HCCM was generated for calibration and validation of the crop partitioning framework as an alternative to individual cropland masks which exhibit high disagreement. The accuracy of the framework in partitioning the HCCM was evaluated using an independent validation dataset, yielding an overall accuracy rate of 73 %. The findings of this study indicate that out of the total area covered by the HCCM (2.36 million km2), about 461,000 km2 (19 %) is irrigated cropland. The partitioning framework was applied on eight landcover products, and the extent of irrigated areas varied between 19 % and 30 % of the total cropland area. The framework demonstrated high precision and specificity scores, indicating its effectiveness in correctly identifying irrigated areas while minimizing the misclassification of rainfed areas as irrigated. This study provides an enhanced understanding of rainfed and irrigation patterns across Africa, supporting efforts towards achieving sustainable and resilient agricultural systems. Consequently, the approach outlined expands on the suite of remote sensing landcover products that can be used for agricultural water studies in Africa by enabling the extraction of irrigated and rainfed cropland data from landcover products that do not have disaggregated cropland classes.

    Publication Year 2024
    Title A framework for disaggregating remote-sensing cropland into rainfed and irrigated classes at continental scale
    DOI 10.1016/j.jag.2023.103607
    Authors Afua Owusu, Stefanie Bohms, Mansoor Leh, Naga Manohar Velpuri, Murali Krishna Gumma, Benjamin Ghansah, Paranamana Thilina-Prabhath, Komlavi Akpoti, Kirubel Mekonnen, Primrose Tinonetsana, Ismail Mohammed
    Publication Type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Series Title International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
    Index ID 70251005
    Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
    USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center