Sun, ZH; Di, LP; Fang, H; Burgess, A (2020). Deep Learning Classification for Crop Types in North Dakota. IEEE JOURNAL OF SELECTED TOPICS IN APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATIONS AND REMOTE SENSING, 13, 2200-2213.

Recently, agricultural remote sensing community has endeavored to utilize the power of artificial intelligence (AI). One important topic is using AI to make the mapping of crops more accurate, automatic, and rapid. This article proposed a classification workflow using deep neural network (DNN) to produce high-quality in-season crop maps from Landsat imageries for North Dakota. We use historical crop maps from the agricultural department and North Dakota ground measurements as training datasets. Processing workflows are created to automate the tedious preprocessing, training, testing, and postprocessing workflows. We tested this hybrid solution on new images and received accurate results on major crops such as corn, soybean, barley, spring wheat, dry beans, sugar beets, and alfalfa. The pixelwise overall accuracy in all three test regions is over 82% for all land types (including noncrop land), which is the same level of accuracy as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cropland Data Layer. The texture of DNN maps is more consistent with fewer noises, which is more comfortable to read. We find DNN is better on recognizing big farmlands than recognizing the scattered wetlands and suburban regions in North Dakota. The model trained on multiple scenes of multiple years and months yields higher accuracy than any of the models trained only on a single scene, a single month, or a single year. These results reflect that DNN can produce reliable in-season maps for major crops in North Dakota big farms and could provide a relatively accurate reference for the minor crops in scattered wetland fields.