In order to design and develop methods to assess/monitor (longer term) impacts of agricultural dynamics, as a contribution to GEOGLAM, it is important to thoroughly understand the currently used practises at a global scale. The GEO Agriculture Community of Practise describes a number of national and international agricultural monitoring systems, such as EC JRC/MARS (Monitoring Agricultural Resources), FAO/GIEWS (Global Information and Early Warning System), China’s CropWatch, and the USDA FAS (Foreign Agricultural Service). In generic terms, most of these systems have a combined approach using time series of satellite and meteorological data, a “static” crop map mask, agro-meteorological models and a statistical tool box, resulting in within-season crop yield estimates, area estimates and production forecasts. As a consequence, little attention is given to pluri-annual changes such as shifts in cultivation practises (intensification), expansion or abandonment of agricultural land (expansion or shrinking). Both intensification and expansion of agricultural land are the primary focus of SIGMA. The figure below illustrates the overall concept of SIGMA’s innovation and research activities in relation to “short term” agricultural monitoring and “long term” sustainability concerns of agriculture and related cultivation practises.
As such, SIGMA has three main objectives:
- Identify, map and assess agriculture and crop land changes, globally, regionally and locally
- Identify, map and assess changes in agricultural production levels and shifts in cultivation practises
- Identify, map and analyze environmental impacts of Agriculture and cultivation practices