Science Service System

Summary of Proposal LAN0837

TitleRepeatPass TerraSAR-X to Monitor Tillage Activities to Support Sustainable Agriculture for Canada
Investigator McNairn, Heather - Canadian Federal Government, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Team Member
Physical Scientist Shang, Jiali - Canadian Federal Government, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Physical Scientist Pacheco, Anna - Canadian Federal Government, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Physical Scientist Merzouki, Amine - Canadian Federal Government, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Professor Berg, Aaron - University of Guelph, Geography
Dr. Sweeney, Stewart - Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Environmental Management Branch
Mr. Homayouni, Saeid - Canadian Federal Government, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
SummaryTargeting of best management practices to vulnerable landscapes is required to promote the long term sustainability of the agriculture sector. Frequent tillage of fragile lands promotes soil loss and the degradation of soil quality. Consequently targeting programs and policies to promote best practices on these lands is critical. However, information is needed for effective targeting and monitoring. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), in collaboration with the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), is involved in multi-year research to develop methods to map land management activities using optical and SAR satellite imagery. Optical data are able to estimate the amount of residue left after harvest and tillage. SAR data help to track tillage activities and to estimate surface roughness associated with tillage disturbance. It is the knowledge of residue cover and tillage disturbance that provides a complete picture of land management activities. To date, AAFC has investigated the use of C-Band data to estimate both soil moisture and tillage disturbance. Since 2008, a long-term research site in eastern Ontario has been imaged with RADARSAT-1, RADARSAT-2, ASAR and PALSAR sensors. This project proposes to include TerraSAR-X data in this acquisition planning and to extend research to two other sites in order to address the following objectives: Determine the capability of repeat-pass TerraSAR-X data to detect the occurrence of tillage activities;Demonstrate how X-, C- and L-Band data can be integrated to improve the range of sensitivity to tillage, across three Canadian agricultural landscapes; and Demonstrate the integration of multi-frequency SAR tillage maps with estimates of crop residue. The team will investigate approaches to track tillage occurrence including changes in the magnitude of backscatter (X, - C-, and L-Band) and changes in polarimetric variables such as anisotropy and the circular polarization correlation coefficient (using RADARSAT-2). The team is requesting a total of 40 repeat-pass TerraSAR-X StripMode dual polarization acquisitions to cover two tillage seasons for the three test sites. These will be matched with acquisitions of RADARSAT-2 quad-pol data, and requests will be placed to acquire ALOS PALSAR data. AAFC has funding from an approved internal research project (“Integrated Earth Observation Information on Crops and Soils for Agri-Environmental Monitoring in Canada”). The University of Guelph is funded through an approved Geomatics for Informed Decisions (GEOIDE) project (“Monitoring Agricultural Land Management Activities from Space”). RADARSAT-2 data will be acquired under the Canadian government data allocation. This research activity is expected to generate a series of conference papers and presentations, as well as peer-reviewed journal publications. In addition, AAFC will complete a final report on research findings and provide a sample of output products to support the promotion of TerraSAR-X.

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