CALS hosts workshop for NASA effort on remote sensing and agriculture

satellite photo

This satellite image, provided by Mutlu Ozdogan, shows a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border in southern California. The border is the sharp east-west line in the center of the photo, and the Mexican city of Mexicali is the gray/purple area just south of the border. Areas colored bright green are areas of healthy and active agriculture, while brown marks desert or non-cultivated lands. This image shows that there can be differences in cultivation practices and agricultural productivity across national boundaries, even when those areas are the in same geographic and climate regions. Satellite data can reveal these differences easily and without bias.

While the world was captivated by recent images of Pluto coming in from the New Horizon’s mission, 20 scientists gathered at Memorial Union to use NASA data to map 3.7 billion acres of cropland on Earth.

Mutlu Ozdogan, associate professor of forest and wildlife ecology, hosted the sixth workshop on Global Food Security – Support Analysis Data @ 30m (GFSAD30). Using satellite data and special software, the NASA-funded GFSAD30 project will document cropland changes from 1990 to 2017 to provide a record of water use, crop type and productivity, cropping intensity and other information vital to global food security.

Ozdogan workshop 1

Participants in the sixth workshop on Global Food Security – Support Analysis Data @ 30m discuss the project at Memorial Union.

“Having accurate and up-to-date cropland information helps us do better accounting of agricultural productivity, water use, as well as environmental sustainability – all critical for studying global food security,” says Ozdogan. “From the vantage point of space, satellites give us the unique ability to extract this information repeatedly and at global scales without bias.”

Participants include researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), USDA and several universities.