The Scottish Crop Map will inform future land use planning
Every crop grown in nearly 400,000 Scottish fields has been recorded by satellite imagery and can be viewed on a new interactive map published by the Scottish Government.
The government said the data, which was recorded in 2019 using radar images from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Copernicus satellite program, will be used to better understand rural land use and avoid farmers worth responding to surveys.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon added that future versions of the map could have a “considerably wider scope of use” by providing real-time data that would aid in planning and management of use. lands.
She said: ‘The statistics we have on the Scottish agricultural sector are generally based on surveys carried out by a large number of farmers. Collecting data in this way would reduce the time our farmers and smallholders have to spend reporting this.
“In order to help improve the accuracy of the map, and before new developments are made to track minor crops, farmers and smallholders are encouraged to review the current map and report any inaccuracies in the identified crop. .
“Collaboration with farmers and farmers with their local knowledge is vital and will help develop future iterations of the map and allow us to expand and improve what the map could do. “
The Farmers Union (NFUS) said the map was an important development to help support policy decisions with clearer evidence, albeit without other layers relating to livestock management, agri-environmental management, habitats, the forests and vast expanses of wild pastures of Scotland, he could only provide a partial picture.
The union added: “Visual and digital data on agricultural land use will be an increasingly important tool to help define and design future agricultural and land use policy.
“Having a greater degree of spatial information, rather than aggregate numbers by area, can allow decision makers to better align measures with desired outcomes.
“Assuming the data is accurate, it could help guide the development of management measures and actions that could be undertaken in pursuit of, for example, climate and biodiversity goals.”
The map was developed by the Scottish Government’s Rural & Environmental Science and Analytical Services (RESAS), in collaboration with EDINA – a world-class center of excellence in geospatial and satellite data – at the University of Edinburgh.
Initial analysis predicted that the model worked with 85% accuracy and better than 90% for barley and wheat.