Within-Season Crop Identification by the Fusion of Spectral Time-Series Data and Historical Crop Planting Data

Qun Wang, Boli Yang, Luchun Li, Hongyi Liang, Xiaolin Zhu, Ruyin Cao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Crop mapping at an earlier time within the growing season benefits agricultural management. However, crop spectral information is very limited at the early crop phenological stages, leading to difficulties for within-season crop identification. In this study, we proposed a deep learning-based fusion method for crop mapping within the growing season, which first learned a priori information (i.e., pre-season crop types) from historical crop planting data and then integrated the a priori information with the satellite-derived crop types estimated from spectral times-series data. We expect that preseason crop types provided by crop rotation patterns is an effective supplement to spectral information to generate reliable crop maps in the early growing season. We tested the proposed fusion method at three representative sites in the U.S. with different crop rotation intensities and one site with cloudy weather conditions in the Sichuan Province of China. The experimental results showed that the fusion method incorporated the strengths of pre-season crop type estimates and the spectral-based crop type estimates and thus achieved higher crop classification accuracy than the two estimates throughout the growing season. We found that pre-season crop estimates had a higher accuracy in the scenarios with either nearly continuous planting or half-time planting of the same crop. In addition, the historical crop type data strongly affected the performance of pre-season crop estimates, suggesting that high-quality historical crop planting data are particularly important for crop identification at earlier times in the growing season. Our study highlighted the great potential for near real-time crop mapping through the fusion of spectral information and crop rotation patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5043
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • crop rotation
  • crop sequence
  • early-season crop classification
  • near real-time mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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