The two phases of this project show the expansion dynamics of the areas planted with annual crops in two of Brazil’s most important biomes, both of which have great potential for agricultural expansion and are also of great interest for conservation. The first phase was focused on the Cerrado, with financial support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The second phase covered the Amazon biome and was financially supported by the Gibbs Land Use and Environment Lab at the University of Wisconsin.
In 2018, the GTC (Cerrado Working Group) contracted an update of the Cerrado soy map for crop year 2016/17. In this update the soy expansion on areas that were deforested between 2014 and 2017, according to data from PRODES Cerrado, was also evaluated.
In total, approximately two thousand satellite images (Landsat, Sentinel and ResourceSat) were analyzed for each observed crop years.
The project has served as the basis for a series of products that render greater transparency and a solid comprehension of the recent agricultural expansion in the Cerrado and Amazon. These products are supportive tools for the productive sector, government, academy, civil society organizations, and other agents linked to agriculture production and to environmental conservation. The project’s results were, and still are, used in initiatives such as the Soy Moratorium and Agroideal, as well as being helpful to organizations such as the Cerrado Working Group (GTC), Global Forest Watch (GFC), Gibbs Lab and Trase, among others.
Example of the annual crops map for the Cerrado biome in the 2013/14 crop year.
Check the reports already available for the Cerrado biome:
Access the site biomas.agrosatelite.com.br for more information.
Annual Mapping of Land Use and Land Cover of Brazil (MapBiomas) is an initiative that involves a collaborative network of specialists on each of the biomes and on transversal themes such as agriculture, livestock farming, and coastal zones. The project was created in an attempt to respond to the following question: is it possible to produce annual land use/land cover maps for all of Brazil, in a significantly more affordable, fast and up-to-date manner, to retrieve a record of the last few decades? The objectives: to contribute to the understanding of land use dynamics in Brazil, having as a foundation the development and implementation of an agile, reliable and low-cost methodology for generating annual land use/land cover maps for Brazil, from 1985 to the present day; to create a platform to disseminate the methodology to other interested countries and regions, and to establish a network of specialists to map land use, land cover and their dynamics.
What followed was a technical cooperation with Google to develop a platform based on the Google Earth Engine. The project effectively began in July 2015. Today, MapBiomas uses cloud-based processing and automatic classifiers developed in, and operated from, the Google Earth Engine platform to generate an annual historical series of land cover maps of Brazil.
As a reference in innovation and agriculture remote sensing, Agrosatélite is responsible for mapping the agriculture and planted forest classes in MapBiomas.
Access the site mapbiomas.org for more information.
One of the most successful examples of the power of remote sensing technologies to yearly evaluate crop area is Canasat, originating at Inpe in 2003 under the care of a research team from which the Agrosatélite partners would emerge — the company assumed responsibility for the execution of the project in mid 2013. Canasat currently maps the sugarcane cultivated area in the South-Central and the Northeast regions of Brazil, through images from the satellites Sentinel-2A and -2B and Landsat 8. The analysis results in an estimate of the sugarcane area available for harvest at the beginning of the crop year. Moreover, the project provides support for a most comprehensive analysis of the available sugarcane for sugar and ethanol production. Examples of this are the annual rates of sugarcane renovation, the expansion or retraction of sugarcane plantations, and the land use/land cover changes related to the the crop’s expansion. It was also fundamental to various academic scientific studies related to the sector.
The Sugarcane Industry Association of São Paulo (Unica) is a user of the information generated by Canasat since 2003 — today the annual sugarcane area estimation project based on remote sensing is the longest-running in Brazil.
Annually, since 2013, Agrosatélite maps soy crop in recently deforested areas of the Amazon biome. The objective is to guarantee that the soy export industry of Brazil neither buys nor sells the product coming from these areas, honouring its commitment to the Soy Moratorium, an agreement between the productive sector and civil society, signed in July 2006.
The Amazon biome is known, among other aspects, for its nearly continental territorial extent and for its high rainfall index throughout the crop year. Monitoring soy has therefore become a challenging task, viable only with the analysis of thousands of images by Agrosatélite every year. In crop year 2017/18, the maps produced by Agrosatélite identified 63,316 hectares of soy in contravention of the agreement established in the Soy Moratorium. The plantations are located in deforested areas mapped by PRODES between 2009 and 2017. The area corresponds to 1.0% of the soy planted area in the Amazon biome in the 2016/17 crop year, and to 1.2% of the total deforestation that occurred during the Moratorium.
The initiative is internationally recognized as highly relevant in the fight against deforestation associated with the production of soy in the Amazon biome. It is a success story that shows the possibility of reconciling crop production with environmental preservation through rational land use. It is worth noting that during the twelve years of the Moratorium’s existence, the soy planted area in the Amazon biome more than quadrupled, increasing from 1.14 million hectares in the 2006/07 crop year to 4.66 million hectares in 2017/18 — despite this expansion, only 63 thousand hectares were found in 2018 to be in contravention of the Moratorium. See the complete reports:
Access the ABIOVE website for more information.
In 2016, Agrosatélite was selected by the National Water Agency (ANA) to map sugarcane areas being irrigated under different water throughout the South-Central region of the country in the 2015/16 crop year. The study identifies the existence of 1.7 million hectares of irrigated sugarcane, equivalent to 17.2% of the sugarcane plantations in the region. Of these, only 27,300 hectares (1.6%) were under major irrigation regime.
Now Agrosatélite has returned to the project, assuming responsibility for updating the study for the 2017/18 crop year and including the country’s Northeast region. Additionally, six centers of various irrigated crops in diverse regions of Brazil are mapped using meteorological and remote sensing data, offering a methodological basis for expanding the coverage of crop irrigation maps in the future.
More than half of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Brazil result from land use/land cover changes. Agrosatélite was selected by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC) to update Brazil’s land use/land cover map for the IV National Communication (4CN), to meet the country’s obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
To perform the task, the company has a unit dedicated to the project, comprising a multidisciplinary team entirely concentrated on the processing and interpretation of thousands of Landsat and Sentinel images acquired during key periods, considering the dynamics of land use/land cover change in each biome.
With this project, Agrosatélite has the opportunity to produce excellent maps for reliably estimating the GHG emissions due to land use/land cover changes over the 2010–2016 period
Agroideal is a pioneering initiative for the soy and livelstock production chains. Through this project, companies, NGOs, banks and research institutions join forces to develop a free, online territorial intelligence system that supports decision-making in the territorial assessment of socioenvironmental risks associated with investments in agriculture expansion. The objective: seeking greater economic and productive performance coupled with lower environmental and social impacts.
The system, which is developed and maintained by Agrosatélite, innovates to bring fresh and spatially explicit information that assists the soy and livestock chains in encouraging the use of already open areas to expand production.
It is a tool that enables sectorial actors, researchers, managers and the wider community to acquire knowledge of their territory and promote its sustainable development.
Agroideal is available for the Cerrado and Amazon biomes in Brazil and for the Gran Chaco in Argentina and Paraguay.
Watch the video on the initiative:
Access the Agroideal website for more information.