Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Remote Sensing

Issue

3

Volume

11

Publisher

MDPI

Publication Date

2-12-2019

First Page

1

Last Page

16

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Abstract

High-resolution mapping of irrigated fields is needed to better estimate water and nutrient fluxes in the landscape, food production, and local to regional climate. However, this remains a challenge in humid to subhumid regions, where irrigation has been expanding into what was largely rainfed agriculture due to trends in climate, crop prices, technologies and practices. One such region is southwestern Michigan, USA, where groundwater is the main source of irrigation water for row crops (primarily corn and soybeans). Remote sensing of irrigated areas can be difficult in these regions as rainfed areas have similar characteristics. We present methods to address this challenge and enhance the contrast between neighboring rainfed and irrigated areas, including weather-sensitive scene selection, applying recently developed composite indices and calculating spatial anomalies. We create annual, 30m-resolution maps of irrigated corn and soybeans for southwestern Michigan from 2001 to 2016 using a machine learning method (random forest). The irrigation maps reasonably capture the spatial and temporal pattern of irrigation, with accuracies that exceed available products. Analysis of the irrigation maps showed that the irrigated area in southwestern Michigan tripled in the last 16 years. We also discuss the remaining challenges for irrigation mapping in humid to subhumid areas.

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