The Scottish Government has unveiled an interactive map that uses satellite images and computing science to provide a guide to the use of agricultural land.
The Scottish Crop Map has been developed by the Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services (RESAS), working with EDINA – the centre for digital expertise in UK higher education – at the University of Edinburgh and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC).
It uses data from 2019 to predict the crop types using radar images from the European Space Agency (ESA) Copernicus Satellite Programme and to recognise the crops growing in nearly 400,000 fields in Scotland.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said: “This map is a very exciting development and, along with other digital innovations, will provide greater insight into rural land use. Future iterations of the map, combined with other datasets, could have a significantly broader scope of use, providing real time data that would help with community and farm level land use planning and management.
“The statistics we have on Scotland’s agricultural sector typically rely on surveys being completed by a large number of farmers. Gathering data in this way would reduce the amount of time our farmers and crofters have to spend reporting this.
“In order to help improve the accuracy of the map, and before further developments are made to track minor crops, farmers and crofters are being asked to review the current map and report any inaccuracies in the crop identified. Engagement with farmers and crofters with their local knowledge is vital and will help develop future iterations of the map and enable us to extend and enhance what the map could do.”
Image from Scottish Government RESAS, Open Government Licence