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Applications of satellite ‘hyper-sensing’ in Chinese agriculture: Challenges and opportunities

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)62-86
Early online date10/10/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Ensuring adequate food supplies to a large and increasing population continues to be the key challenge for China. Given the increasing integration of China within global markets for agricultural products, this issue is of considerable significance for global food security. Over the last 50 years, China has increased the production of its staple crops mainly by increasing yield per unit land area. However, this has largely been achieved through inappropriate agricultural practices, which have caused environmental degradation, with deleterious consequences for future agricultural productivity. Hence, there is now a pressing need to intensify agriculture in China using practices that are environmentally and economically sustainable. Given the dynamic nature of crops over space and time, the use of remote sensing technology has proven to be a valuable asset providing end-users in many countries with information to guide sustainable agricultural practices. Recently, the field has experienced considerable technological advancements reflected in the availability of ‘hyper-sensing’ (high spectral, spatial and temporal) satellite imagery useful for monitoring, modelling and mapping of agricultural crops. However, there still remains a significant challenge in fully exploiting such technologies for addressing agricultural problems in China. This review paper evaluates the potential contributions of satellite ‘hyper-sensing’ to agriculture in China and identifies the opportunities and challenges for future work. We perform a critical evaluation of current capabilities in satellite ‘hyper-sensing’ in agriculture with an emphasis on Chinese sensors. Our analysis draws on a series of in-depth examples based on recent and on-going projects in China that are developing ‘hyper-sensing’ approaches for (i) measuring crop phenology parameters and predicting yields; (ii) specifying crop fertiliser requirements; (iii) optimising management responses to abiotic and biotic stress in crops; (iv) maximising yields while minimising water use in arid regions; (v) large-scale crop/cropland mapping; and (vi) management zone delineation. The paper concludes with a synthesis of these application areas in order to define the requirements for future research, technological innovation and knowledge exchange in order to deliver yield sustainability in China.

Bibliographic note

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 64, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/S0370-1573(02)00269-7