Monitoring the sustainable intensification of arable agriculture: the potential role of Earth observation

Hunt, Merryn L.; Blackburn, George Alan; Rowland, Clare S.. 2019 Monitoring the sustainable intensification of arable agriculture: the potential role of Earth observation. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 81. 125-136.

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Sustainable intensification (SI) has been proposed as a possible solution to the conflicting problems of meeting projected increases in food demand and preserving environmental quality. SI would provide necessary production increases while simultaneously reducing or eliminating environmental degradation, without taking land from competing demands. An important component of achieving these aims is the development of suitable methods for assessing the temporal variability of both the intensification and sustainability of agriculture. Current assessments rely on traditional data collection methods that produce data of limited spatial and temporal resolution. Earth Observation (EO) provides a readily accessible, long-term dataset with global coverage at various spatial and temporal resolutions. In this paper we demonstrate how EO could significantly contribute to SI assessments, providing opportunities to quantify agricultural intensity and environmental sustainability. We review an extensive body of research on EO-based methods to assess multiple indicators of both agricultural intensity and environmental sustainability. To date these techniques have not been combined to assess SI; here we identify the opportunities and initial steps required to achieve this. In this context, we propose the development of a set of essential sustainable intensification variables (ESIVs) that could be derived from EO data.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0303-2434
Additional Keywords: ASSIST - Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Systems, sustainable intensification assessment, Earth observation, agricultural intensity indicators, environmental sustainability indicators, crop yield, vegetation health, soil quality, water quality, biodiversity, ecosystem health
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 05 Jun 2019 12:54 +0 (UTC)

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