Scientists at ICRISAT, in association with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), have developed high-resolution spatial maps that enable cropland mapping for insurance claims and governments.

The spatial maps cover the whole of South Asia, which is home to 1.9 billion people and 230 million hectares of net cropped area.

The maps offer a resolution of 30 m, which is handy to get the finer details of crop land for food and water security assessments. Currently, these factors are evaluated using coarse-resolution data that ranges from 250 m to 1,000 m.

Taking up physical ground surveys is a laborious process, requiring time and a large number of surveyors to assess and validate the effects of floods and drought. But spatial maps provide an accurate assessment of the effects of such natural disasters, reducing time and effort for crop planners, policy makers and insurance companies.

“Spatial mapping is a quick and efficient tool for guiding agriculture policy makers to minimise climate risks,” said Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director-General, Research, at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

“Insurance companies and government agencies require high-quality satellite imagery to monitor and map floods, droughts and other climatic conditions to make the claims process more accurate and efficient,” he said.

Regenerative agriculture

ML Jat, Research Program Director (Resilient Farm and Food Systems) at ICRISAT, said spatial maps could act as a tool to promote regenerative agriculture, which fosters ecological friendly farming.

“Crop type mapping can also guide where and in what systems regenerative agriculture can be deployed,” he said.

“The data would help generate development models for accurate monitoring and decision-making for the entire region,” said Murali Krishna Gumma, Principal Scientist and Cluster Leader (Geospatial Sciences and Big Data), ICRISAT.

The three distinct spatial maps developed by the team could assess irrigated versus rainfed croplands, crop types or crop dominance and cropping intensity (the number of times a crop is grown on the same plot of land in a year), an ICRISAT spokesperson said.