South Africa - Poland - crop growth monitoring and yield assessment system

SAPOL4Crop - joint South African – Polish project aimed at preparation of the crop growth monitoring and yield assessment system for early warning, utilizing new Earth Observations data from Copernicus Programme

Project duration: January 2019 – December 2021
Acronym: SAPOL4CROP
Funded by: the National Centre for Research and Development
Reference number: PL-RPA/02/SAPOL4Crop/43/2018

Project leader:
Remote Sensing Centre, Institute of Geodesy and Cartography
Prof. Katarzyna Dabrowska-Zielinska, e-mail:katarzyna.dabrowska-zielinska@igik.edu.pl
Partners: Agricultural Research CouncilInstitute for Soil, Climate and Water (ARC-ISCW)


Project goal:

The main goal of the project is to prepare the operational system for crop growth monitoring , based on synergy of new-generation satellite data from the Copernicus Programme, low-resolution satellite data, meteorological data and in-situ observations. The System will deliver information on crop condition within vegetation period, water deficit in the course of crop development, yield forecast and early warning related to crop hazards.

Project organization:

The Project is divided into several tasks aimed at achievement of the main objective:

  • collection of in-situ data for Polish and South African JECAM sites within growing seasons;
  • elaboration of crop classification maps for both study sites for each growing season;
  • preparation of maps of vegetation state, based on biophysical parameters derived from satellite data;
  • implementation of the model for crop yield assessment based on meteorological data, with incorporation of satellite-based indices;
  • development of methodology for detecting and forecasting drought conditions and hazard events, based on multi-source satellite data;
  • development of the system for crop growth monitoring and yield assessment in the form of the Portal.

Task description:

Multiple field campaigns are conducted within the growing season, in order to do ground measurements of the most important biophysical parameters characterizing crop growth (Leaf Area Index, FAPAR, soil moisture, chlorophyll content, radiation temperature). Moreover, hyperspectral measurements of the main crop types are performed.

Classification maps of crops are generated, using fusion of two types of high-resolution satellite data – Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-1. Random Forest approach is applied for crop classification, combined with segmentation derived from cadastral data (Land Parcel Identification System).

Maps of vegetation state, characterized by Leaf Area Index (LAI), are generated on the basis of indices derived from Sentinel-2 data. Optimum indices for LAI assessment were determined in the course of analysis of relationships between numerous S-2 derived vegetation indices and LAI ground measurements.

AquaCrop model of yield assessment, based on  meteorological data and in-situ observation will be further developed within the Project, through incorporation of remotely sensed information. LAI and FAPAR information derived from satellite data is planned to be used for yield model enhancement.

Methods of soil moisture assessment based on Sentinel-1 satellite data will be adopted to JECAM sites in Poland and South Africa. The approach of detecting drought conditions, based on low-resolution satellite data, developed at the Institute of Geodesy and Cartography, will be verified at both test sites, as well as impact of drought on yield reduction will be evaluated. The results of analyses will support the “Crop Monitor for Early Warning” system developed within GEOGLAM initiative.

At the final stage of the Project the system of automatic and semi-automatic multi-source data collection, processing, analysis and modeling will be developed. The system will implement methods and models prepared in the particular tasks of the Project.

General goals of the Project are:

  • to exchange know-how and experience between institutions in Poland and Republic of South Africa,
  • to engage young PhD researchers in order to improve their doctor’s theses,
  • to implement results of the Project through the workshops and educational programmes in both countries.

Project dissemination:

  • Gurdak R., Dąbrowska-Zielińska K., Newete S., Chirima G., Bartold M., Abutaleb K., Malińska A., 2022, Monitoring crop growth at JECAM sites in Poland and South Africa using in-situ and satellite data, Living Planet Symposium, 23 - 27 May 2022, Bonn, Germany. POSTER
  • Newete S., Abutaleb K., Dąbrowska-Zielińska K., Gurdak R., Bartold M., Malińska A., 2022, Crop monitoring and yield forecast models for maize production in South Africa and Poland under wet and dry seasons, Living Planet Symposium, 23 - 27 May 2022, Bonn, Germany.
  • Dabrowska-Zielinska K., Newete S.W., Gurdak R., Bartold M., Abutaleb K., Chirima G.J., Malinska A., Economon E., 2021, Crop Growth Monitoring and Yield Forecast for Winter Wheat Under Different Soil-Water Conditions in Poland and South Africa, 40th EARSeL Symposium 2021 European Remote Sensing-New Solutions for Science and Practice, 7 - 10 June 2021, online hosted by the University of Warsaw.
  • Gurdak R., Dabrowska-Zielinska K., Bochenek Z., Kluczek M., Bartold M., Newete S.W., Chirima G.J., 2021, Crop Growth Monitoring and Yield Prediction System Applying Copernicus Data for Poland & South Africa, IEEE International Geoscience & Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), 11 - 16 July 2021, online hosted by the IGARSS 2021 Organizing Committee in Brussels (Belgium).
  • Gurdak R., Dabrowska-Zielinska K., 2021, Assessment of the Accuracy of Winter Wheat Yield Models Based on Remote Sensing Data, 40th EARSeL Symposium 2021 European Remote Sensing-New Solutions for Science and Practice, 7 - 10 June 2021, online hosted by the University of Warsaw.