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Bayerischen Julius-Mawimilians-Universität Würzburg (2014)

Agricultural Land Use Mapping in West Africa Using Multi-sensor Satellite Imagery

Forkuor, Gerald

Titre : Agricultural Land Use Mapping in West Africa Using Multi-sensor Satellite Imagery

Kartierung landwirtschaftlicher Landnutzung unter Verwendung multi-sensoraler Satellitendaten

Auteur : Forkuor, Gerald

Université de soutenance : Bayerischen Julius-Mawimilians-Universität Würzburg

Grade : Erlangung des naturwissenschaftlichen Doktorgrade 2014

Rapid population growth in West Africa has led to expansion in croplands due to the need to grow more food to meet the rising food demand of the burgeoning population. These expansions negatively impact the sub-region’s ecosystem, with implications for water and soil quality, biodiversity and climate. In order to appropriately monitor the changes in croplands and assess its impact on the ecosystem and other environmental processes, accurate and up-to-date information on agricultural land use is required. But agricultural land use mapping (i.e. mapping the spatial distribution of crops and croplands) in West Africa has been challenging due to the unavailability of adequate satellite images (as a result of excessive cloud cover), small agricultural fields and a heterogeneous landscape. This study, therefore, investigated the possibilities of improving agricultural land use mapping by utilizing optical satellite images with higher spatial and temporal resolution as well as images from Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems which are near-independent of weather conditions. The study was conducted at both watershed and regional scales. At watershed scale, classification of different crop types in three watersheds in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin was conducted using multi-temporal : (1) only optical images (RapidEye) and (2) optical plus dual polarimetric (VV/VH) SAR images (TerraSAR-X). In addition, inter-annual or short term (2-3 years) changes in cropland area in the past ten years were investigated using historical Landsat images. Results obtained indicate that the use of only optical images to map different crop types in West Africa can achieve moderate classification accuracies (57% to 71%). Overlaps between the cropping calendars of most crops types and certain inter-croppings pose a challenge to optical images in achieving an adequate separation between those crop classes. Integration of SAR images, however, can improve classification accuracies by between 8 and 15%, depending on the number of available images and their acquisition dates. The sensitivity of SAR systems to different crop canopy architectures and land surface characteristics improved the separation between certain crop types. The VV polarization of TerraSAR-X was found to better discrimination between crop types than the VH. Images acquired between August and October were found to be very useful for crop mapping in the sub-region due to structural differences in some crop types during this period. At the regional scale, inter-annual or short term changes in cropland area in the Sudanian Savanna agro-ecological zone in West Africa were assessed by upscaling historical cropland information derived at the watershed scale (using Landsat imagery) unto a coarse spatial resolution, but geographically large, satellite imagery (MODIS) using regression based modeling. The possibility of using such regional scale cropland information to improve government-derived agricultural statistics was investigated by comparing extracted cropland area from the fractional cover maps with district-level agricultural statistics from Ghana The accuracy of the fractional cover maps (MAE between 14.2% and 19.1%) indicate that the heterogeneous agricultural landscape of West Africa can be suitably represented at the regional or continental scales by estimating fractional cropland cover on low resolution Analysis of the results revealed that cropland area in the Sudanian Savanna zone has experienced inter-annual or short term fluctuations in the past ten years due to a variety of factors including climate factors (e.g. floods and droughts), declining soil fertility, population increases and agricultural policies such as fertilizer subsidies. Comparison of extracted cropland area from the fractional cover maps with government’s agricultural statistics (MoFA) for seventeen districts (second administrative units) in Ghana revealed high inconsistencies in the government statistics, and highlighted the potential of satellite derived cropland information at regional scales to improve national/sub-national agricultural statistics in West Africa. The results obtained in this study is promising for West Africa, considering the recent launch of optical (Landsat 8) and SAR sensors (Sentinel-1) that will provide free data for crop mapping in the sub-region. This will improve chances of obtaining adequate satellite images acquired during the cropping season for agricultural land use mapping and bolster opportunities of operationalizing agricultural land use mapping in West Africa. This can benefit a wide range of biophysical and economic models and improve decision making based on their results.


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