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Scoping the extent to which Earth observation data can cost effectively provide agricultural activity information - SCF0103

The United Kingdom (UK) and its Devolved Administrations (DA) have ambitious targets for
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from agriculture by 2020 and 2050. Current Defra
projects will improve upon existing agricultural emission inventory calculations to represent the
impacts of land management on soil carbon stock exchange, and the uptake on farm efficiency
measures that reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions. The developing inventories will have a
greater and more complex demand for regional environment condition and farm activity data that will
challenge existing national survey data sources. For other countries at an earlier stage of inventory
development, conventional survey approaches to meet current data needs may also be prohibitively
expensive, or introduce an unacceptable burden on the agricultural sector. Earth Observation (EO) from
space may provide an alternative source of information to complement or replace traditional survey
data sources. The overall aim of this project is to critically evaluate the ability of existing or near
launch EO sensors to fulfil the activity data requirements of the future integrated Agriculture, Forestry
and Other Land Use (AFOLU) inventory. The project will be carried out in partnership with the Global
Research Alliance (GRA) who will fund and chair a dissemination workshop. The GRA Secretariat
will also support the project by circulation of stock-take questionnaires to international partners.
1. Identification and prioritisation of current and future UK AFOLU data requirements, taking
account of future improvements in inventory methodology and reliability of existing data
sources, and stock-take of international requirements;
2. Identification of credible operational EO products that map to data requirements and
international stock-take of existing uses of EO technologies for AFOLU;
3. Assessment of the EO product costs and comparison with costs of existing survey data
sources, taking account of survey coverage;
4. Documentation of two international projects that have successfully used EO to meet an
activity data need, and one novel demonstration case study in the UK; and
5. Dissemination of findings and recommendations for prioritised investment in EO products to
support inventory compilation at an international workshop.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2015

Cost: £193,220
Contractor / Funded Organisations
A D A S UK Ltd (ADAS), Astrium Limited (trading as Airbus Defence and Space), Rothamsted Research (BBSRC), Centre For Ecology and Hydrology (CEH)