The Role of Earth Observation in Achieving Sustainable Agricultural Production in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions of the World
Crop production is a major source of food and livelihood for many people in arid and semi-arid (ASA) regions across the world. However, due to irregular climatic events, ASA regions are affected commonly by frequent droughts that can impact food production. In addition, ASA regions in the Middle East and Africa are often characterised by political instability, which can increase population vulnerability to hunger and ill health. Remote sensing (RS) provides a platform to improve the spatial
... iction of crop production and food availability, with the potential to positively impact populations. This paper, firstly, describes some of the important characteristics of agriculture in ASA regions that require monitoring to improve their management. Secondly, it demonstrates how freely available RS data can support decision-making through a cost-effective monitoring system that complements traditional approaches for collecting agricultural data. Thirdly, it illustrates the challenges of employing freely available RS data for mapping and monitoring crop area, crop status and forecasting crop yield in these regions. Finally, existing approaches used in these applications are evaluated, and the challenges associated with their use and possible future improvements are discussed. We demonstrate that agricultural activities can be monitored effectively and both crop area and crop yield can be predicted in advance using RS data. We also discuss the future challenges associated with maintaining food security in ASA regions and explore some recent advances in RS that can be used to monitor cropland and forecast crop production and yield.