Area Estimates

The early steps

In the first period of the MARS Project (1988-97), crop area estimation had a central role with two major activities: Regional crop inventories and Rapid area estimates of crop area change at EU level (action 4 or activity B). The Regional crop inventories made a cost-efficiency analysis of the combination of ground observations with classified satellite images in the EU landscape. The cost-efficiency threshold was nearly reached with Landsat-TM images, and would have been reached if the Landsat program had been kept fully operational.

The rapid estimates of crop area change, also known as Action 4 or activity B, made a large scale attempt to get early estimates of crop area change at EU level without ground information of the current year on the basis of a sample of 60 sites of 40x40 km. A further analysis showed that the margin for subjectivity of the method was too wide to make it useful. Therefore the method was abandoned and similar methods are not recommended.

The Agri4cast action is now focused on LUCAS (Land Use/Cover Area-frame Survey). The unit supports Eurostat on the design, efficiency analysis and progressive improvement of the Eurostat LUCAS survey based on an area frame of points.

Assessing the efficiency of samples of Very High Resolution images in the framework of the the SATCHMO Core Mapping Service in Geoland2.

Crop area estimation in several parts of the world: Different activities in collaboration with Morocco, Ukraine, China, Malawi and Somalia, following schemes that are adapted to the specific conditions of each country, but respecting in all cases the principles outlined in the best practices document of the the GEO-GEOSS community of practice on Earth Observation.


  • Gallego F.J., 1995, Sampling Frames of Square Segments, Report EUR 16317, Office for Publ. of the E.C. Luxembourg. 68 pp.
  • Taylor J., Sannier C., DelincĂ© J, Gallego F.J., 1997, Regional Crop Inventories in Europe Assisted by Remote Sensing: 1988-1993. Synthesis Report . EUR 17319 EN, Office for Pubblications of the EC. Luxembourg. 71pp
  • Gallego F.J., 2004, Remote sensing and land cover area estimation . International Journal of Remote Sensing. Vol. 25, n. 15, pp. 3019-3047 .
  • Carfagna E., Gallego F.J., 2005, The use of remote sensing in agricultural statistics, International Statistical Review 73, 3, 389-404.
  • Gallego F.J., 2005, Stratified sampling of satellite images with a systematic grid of points, ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing , 59, 369-376.
  • Gallego, J. and Bamps, C., 2008, Using CORINE land cover and the point survey LUCAS for area estimation. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, In Press, Corrected Proof. doi:10.1016/j.jag.2007.11.001

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