Peer Reviewed

New maps offer clearer view of global agriculture

To know precisely where agricultural land is located for regional and global food security planning, two new maps offer a clearer view of global agriculture.

The maps have been developed by Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The first map shows global cropland percentages at one-km resolution for the year 2005.

“Current sources of information on cropland extent are not accurate enough for most applications. The global cropland map is a low cost solution to fill this need,” said IIASA researcher Steffen Fritz who led the project.

Agriculture Map
IIASA-IFPRI Global Cropland Map (View of northern and central Africa). Credit: IIASA Geo-Wiki Project, Google

The study also presents the first ever global field-size map – an important proxy for mechanisation and human development.

This map was based entirely on crowd sourced data collected through IIASA’s Geo-Wiki project that looked at thousands of high resolution images of land cover to determine whether cropland was present or not.

“The field size map is really unique – no such global product currently exists,” added IIASA researcher and co-author Linda See.

According to the researchers, the new maps show the power of crowd sourcing for massive data analysis projects.

The study appeared in the journal Global Change Biology.



Fritz, S., See, L., McCallum, I., You, L., Bun, A., Moltchanova, E., Duerauer, M., Albrecht, F., Schill, C., Perger, C., Havlik, P., Mosnier, A., Thornton, P., Wood-Sichra, U., Herrero, M., Becker-Reshef, I., Justice, C., Hansen, M., Gong, P., Abdel Aziz, S., Cipriani, A., Cumani, R., Cecchi, G., Conchedda, G., Ferreira, S., Gomez, A., Haffani, M., Kayitakire, F., Malanding, J., Mueller, R., Newby, T., Nonguierma, A., Olusegun, A., Ortner, S., Rajak, D. R., Rocha, J., Schepaschenko, D., Schepaschenko, M., Terekhov, A., Tiangwa, A., Vancutsem, C., Vintrou, E., Wenbin, W., van der Velde, M., Dunwoody, A., Kraxner, F. and Obersteiner, M. (2015), Mapping global cropland and field size. Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12838

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