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Proceedings Paper

Evaluating TerraSAR-X for the identification of tillage occurrence over an agricultural area in Canada
Author(s): Anna M. Pacheco; Heather McNairn; Amine Merzouki
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Paper Abstract

Tillage practices can affect the long term sustainability of agricultural soils as well as a variety of soil processes that impact the environment. The benefits of reduced tillage and no-till practices over agriculture fields are well documented and include: (1) significant reductions in wind and water erosion mitigating nutrient and pesticide runoff into waterways; (2) increasing and/or maintaining soil organic matter; (3) increasing biological activity and improving soil structure; and (4) increasing soil carbon and its sequestration. Information on tillage activities assists in implementing policies and programs to promote beneficial management practices (BMPs), and in monitoring the success of these initiatives. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada supports environmentally responsible agriculture and has identified this as one of their priorities. Thus, tillage information requirements have become increasingly important to a number of programs and policies within the department. Rapid, accurate and objective methods are required to map and monitor tillage activities. Earth observing satellites can assist with targeting and monitoring land management activities. For the last decade, research has clearly demonstrated that complementary information provided by both optical and radar satellite sensors are fundamental in developing an agricultural land management monitoring system. Launched in June 2007, the TerraSAR-X is a radar satellite acquiring data at the X-band frequency (9.6 GHz). The application of TerraSAR-X data for conservation tillage mapping has been somewhat limited, and thus this study investigates its use in determining tillage occurrence. An HH-HV TerraSAR-X image was acquired on November 4, 2009 and ground data were also collected characterizing tillage conditions at the time of acquisition. Backscatter responses were analyzed to identify tillage occurrence and to differentiate between untilled, chiseled and moldboard ploughed fields. Preliminary analysis showed that HH polarization can better contribute to tillage discrimination than compared to HV polarization and that the backscatter response can be used to discriminate untilled fields from ones that are moldboard ploughed. However, chiseled fields were often confused with highroughness (rms height~1.30 cm) untilled fields and moldboard ploughed fields. Fully polarimetric X-band radar datasets could potentially contribute more information to mapping tillage conditions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 October 2010
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 7824, Remote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology XII, 78240P (22 October 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.868218
Show Author Affiliations
Anna M. Pacheco, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Canada)
Heather McNairn, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Canada)
Amine Merzouki, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7824:
Remote Sensing for Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Hydrology XII
Christopher M. U. Neale; Antonino Maltese, Editor(s)

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