Skip to main content

Nominal 30-m cropland extent map of continental Africa by integrating pixel-based and object-based algorithms using Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 Data on Google Earth Engine

October 26, 2017

A satellite-derived cropland extent map at high spatial resolution (30-m or better) is a must for food and water security analysis. Precise and accurate global cropland extent maps, indicating cropland and non-cropland areas, are starting points to develop higher-level products such as crop watering methods (irrigated or rainfed), cropping intensities (e.g., single, double, or continuous cropping), crop types, cropland fallows, as well as for assessment of cropland productivity (productivity per unit of land), and crop water productivity (productivity per unit of water). Uncertainties associated with the cropland extent map have cascading effects on all higher-level cropland products. However, precise and accurate cropland extent maps at high spatial resolution over large areas (e.g., continents or the globe) are challenging to produce due to the small-holder dominant agricultural systems like those found in most of Africa and Asia. Cloud-based geospatial computing platforms and multi-date, multi-sensor satellite image inventories on Google Earth Engine offer opportunities for mapping croplands with precision and accuracy over large areas that satisfy the requirements of broad range of applications. Such maps are expected to provide highly significant improvements compared to existing products, which tend to be coarser in resolution, and often fail to capture fragmented small-holder farms especially in regions with high dynamic change within and across years. To overcome these limitations, in this research we present an approach for cropland extent mapping at high spatial resolution (30-m or better) using the 10-day, 10 to 20-m, Sentinel-2 data in combination with 16-day, 30-m, Landsat-8 data on Google Earth Engine (GEE). First, nominal 30-m resolution satellite imagery composites were created from 36,924 scenes of Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 images for the entire African continent in 2015–2016.