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The prime objective of the present project is to investigate the contribution of meteorological satellite data to more timely, objective, efficient and accurate crop yield assessment in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. In this way the project may contribute to the project "Monitoring Agricultural Statistics with Remote Sensing" (MARS) of the EC Joint Research Centre and th needs of DG VI and the European Statistical Office (EUROSTAT)
Crop yield forecasting techniques based on surface information have major disadvantages when applied regionally. The input data is often of limited precision and spatial resolution. They do not always permit a spatial assessment of a phenomenon (e.g. rainfall) and some input data itself consist of estimates ( radiation from cloud cover or sunshine hours). Meteorological satellite can provide information which has a relatively direct relation to crop growth and in addition is of a synoptic nature.
Two approaches may be used, based on NOAA and METEOSAT, respectively. The NDV derived from the NGAA satellite, is a measure of crop coverage and biomass. T yearly course of the NDVI may be related to the onset of growth and crop development. NDVI curves have been used for crop yield estimation in the UK a elsewhere. A second approach to crop growth makes use of METEOSAT and is base the proportionality between actual evapotranspiration and C02 assimilation. Methods have been developed to monitor actual evapotranspiration on regional and continental scale using METEOSAT. Such information has been coupled to simple growth models to estimate savannah biomass and cereal production in Africa.
Work content.
In this project we will investigate the potential of NOAA-NDVI and METEOSAT derived radiation and actual evapotranspiration data, in combination with appropriate crop growth models, for crop yield estimation in Europe and the Mediterranean basin during the period 1993-1997. The synergy of the combinati of the two approaches will also be analyzed with a focus on the Iberian peninsula. Results will be validated with existing meteorological and crop yield data. Finally the utility of the results for incorporation in operationa crop forecasting schemes will be evaluated.
Methods are developed to map and monitor crop growth conditions in Europe and the Mediterranean basin. There is a need for this kind of information in the European Community and at the national level. Potential users are: DG VI "Agriculture and Fisheries", the European Statistical Office (EUROSTAT), corresponding national authorities, the MARS project. Some of the (potential) benefits of uthis project are as follows. METEOSAT and NOAA data are synoptic and allow for yield assessment compatible for all countries. The data and methodology proposed are objective. The methodology is based on monitoring and this means that up-to-date information is available at any moment of the growing season. The timeliness of yield estimates based on meteorological satellite data can be very high, i.e. within a few days.
The approach has the potential of being economic; relatively low manpower is involved. Crop yield estimates are not restricted to EC but may in the same fast and economic way be obtained for other countries.

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