Machine-learned prediction of annual crop planting in the U.S. Corn Belt based on historical crop planting maps

 

Zhang, C., Di, L., Lin, L., and Guo, L., 2019. Machine-learned prediction of annual crop planting in the U.S. Corn Belt based on historical crop planting maps. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 116, 104989. doi: 10.1016/j.compag.2019.104989.

Abstract: An accurate crop planting map can provide essential information for decision support in agriculture. The method of post-season and in-season crop mapping has been widely studied in the land use and land cover community. However, it remains a challenge to predict the spatial distribution of crop planting before the growing season. This paper is the first attempt to use machine learning approach on the prediction of field-level annual crop planting from historical crop planting maps. We present an end-to-end machine learning framework for crop planting prediction using Cropland Data Layer (CDL) time series as reference data and multi-layer artificial neural network as prediction model. The proposed framework was first tested at Lancaster County of Nebraska State, then scaled up to the U.S. Corn Belt. According to the experiment results from 53 Agricultural Statistics Districts, we found the machine-learned crop planting map was expected to reach 88% agreement with the future CDL. Meanwhile, the crop acreage estimates derived from the machine-learned prediction were highly correlated ( > 0.9) with the crop acreage estimates of CDL and official statistics by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. This study provides a low-cost and efficient way to predict annual crop planting map, which can be used to support many agricultural applications and decision makings before the beginning of a growing season.

Keywords: Crop planting prediction, Machine learning, Artificial neural network, Cropland Data Layer, Crop mapping

Accepted manuscript is available at ResearchGate.

Full paper is available at ScienceDirect.