About us

Our Mission

Focusing on crop production, agricultural activities and rural development, the MARS Unit provides timely forecasts, early assessments and the scientific underpinning for efficient monitoring and control systems. The work serves the Agriculture and Food policies of the European Union, their impact on rural economies and on the environment, encompassing the global issues of food security and climate change.

Our activities are based on expertise in crop modeling, agro- meteorology, sampling methods, environmental geo-spatial analysis, econometrics and using European and global data infrastructures. From this skill-set we generate evidence-based information and forecasts for the management of agricultural practices and early warnings on Food Security. We foster the development of control systems, such as land parcel management and remote sensing checks, for efficient implementation of the Common Agriculture Policy, including the 'greening' aspects. We perform assessments of the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability of policy measures according to their impacts on rural environment and on food security. This includes the issue of climate change adaptation and possible mitigation by agriculturally related policies, and specific attention to new measures promoting biodiversity, environmental quality and resource efficiency.

Our History

The MARS project, started in 1988, was initially designed to apply emerging space technologies for providing independent and timely information on crop areas and yields. Since 1993, the team has contributed towards a more effective and efficient management of the Common Agricultural Policy through the provision of a broader range of technical support services to DG Agriculture and Member-State Administrations. Since 2000, the expertise in crop yields has been applied outside the EU. Services have been developed to support EU aid and assistance policies and provide building blocks for a European capability for global agricultural monitoring and food security assessment.

Today, the Monitoring Agricultural Resources (MARS) Unit is made up of four Actions: GeoCAP, AGRI-ENV, AGRI4CAST, and FOODSEC.