Vancutsem, C; Marinho, E; Kayitakire, F; See, L; Fritz, S (2013). Harmonizing and Combining Existing Land Cover/Land Use Datasets for Cropland Area Monitoring at the African Continental Scale. REMOTE SENSING, 5(1), 19-41.
Mapping cropland areas is of great interest in diverse fields, from crop monitoring to climate change and food security. Recognizing the value of a reliable and harmonized crop mask that entirely covers the African continent, the objectives of this study were to (i) consolidate the best existing land cover/land use datasets, (ii) adapt the Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) for harmonization, (iii) assess the final product, and (iv) compare the final product with two existing datasets. Ten datasets were compared and combined through an expert-based approach in order to create the derived map of cropland areas at 250 m covering the whole of Africa. The resulting cropland mask was compared with two recent cropland extent maps at 1 km: one derived from MODIS and one derived from five existing products. The accuracy of the three products was assessed against a validation sample of 3,591 pixels of 1km regularly distributed over Africa and interpreted using high resolution images, which were collected using the Geo-Wiki tool. The comparison of the resulting crop mask with existing products shows that it has a greater agreement with the expert validation dataset, in particular for places where the cropland represents more than 30% of the area of the validation pixel.