Assessing gaps in irrigated agricultural productivity through satellite earth observations-A case study of the Fergana Valley, Central Asia uri icon

abstract

  • Improving crop area and/or crop yields in agricultural regions is one of the foremost scientific challenges for the next decades. This is especially true in irrigated areas because sustainable intensification of irrigated crop production is virtually the sole means to enhance food supply and contribute to meeting food demands of a growing population. Yet, irrigated crop production worldwide is suffering from soil degradation and salinity, reduced soil fertility, and water scarcity rendering the performance of irrigation schemes often below potential. On the other hand, the scope for improving irrigated agricultural productivity remains obscure also due to the lack of spatial data on agricultural production (e.g. crop acreage and yield). To fill this gap, satellite earth observations and a replicable methodology were used to estimate crop yields at the field level for the period 2010/2014 in the Fergana Valley, Central Asia, to understand the response of agricultural productivity to factors related to the irrigation and drainage infrastructure and environment. The results showed that cropping pattern, i.e. the presence or absence of multi-annual crop rotations, and spatial diversity of crops had the most persistent effects on crop yields across observation years suggesting the need for introducing sustainable cropping systems. On the other hand, areas with a lower crop diversity or abundance of crop rotation tended to have lower crop yields, with differences of partly more than one t/ha yield. It is argued that factors related to the infrastructure, for example, the distance of farms to the next settlement or the density of roads, had a persistent effect on crop yield dynamics over time. The improvement potential of cotton and wheat yields were estimated at 5%, compared to crop yields of farms in the direct vicinity of settlements or roads. In this study it is highlighted how remotely sensed estimates of crop production in combination with geospatial technologies provide a unique perspective that, when combined with field surveys, can support planners to identify management priorities for improving regional production and/or reducing environmental impacts. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • 2017
  • 2017