Mazzia, V; Khaliq, A; Chiaberge, M (2020). Improvement in Land Cover and Crop Classification based on Temporal Features Learning from Sentinel-2 Data Using Recurrent-Convolutional Neural Network (R-CNN). APPLIED SCIENCES-BASEL, 10(1), 238.

Understanding the use of current land cover, along with monitoring change over time, is vital for agronomists and agricultural agencies responsible for land management. The increasing spatial and temporal resolution of globally available satellite images, such as provided by Sentinel-2, creates new possibilities for researchers to use freely available multi-spectral optical images, with decametric spatial resolution and more frequent revisits for remote sensing applications such as land cover and crop classification (LC&CC), agricultural monitoring and management, environment monitoring. Existing solutions dedicated to cropland mapping can be categorized based on per-pixel based and object-based. However, it is still challenging when more classes of agricultural crops are considered at a massive scale. In this paper, a novel and optimal deep learning model for pixel-based LC&CC is developed and implemented based on Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) in combination with Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) using multi-temporal sentinel-2 imagery of central north part of Italy, which has diverse agricultural system dominated by economic crop types. The proposed methodology is capable of automated feature extraction by learning time correlation of multiple images, which reduces manual feature engineering and modeling crop phenological stages. Fifteen classes, including major agricultural crops, were considered in this study. We also tested other widely used traditional machine learning algorithms for comparison such as support vector machine SVM, random forest (RF), Kernal SVM, and gradient boosting machine, also called XGBoost. The overall accuracy achieved by our proposed Pixel R-CNN was 96.5%, which showed considerable improvements in comparison with existing mainstream methods. This study showed that Pixel R-CNN based model offers a highly accurate way to assess and employ time-series data for multi-temporal classification tasks.