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Development of an automated interpretation tool of SAR and INSAR products for the Belgian Agriculture Ministry

Research project T4/DD/68 (Research action T4)

Persons :

Description :

This pilot project consists in the documentation and the implementation of a set of methods and specialised techniques for the SAR data integration into a decision system in the field of agriculture applications. This transfer occurs between the Department of Environmental Sciences and Land Use Planning (MILA) of the Université Catholique de Louvain and the Belgian Ministry of Agriculture.

The Ministry of Agriculture is actually in charge of the control of the farmer's area and production declaration forms. To achieve their goal, the ministry developed an autonomous, powerful and complete tool for the use of optical data. Acceptable results can be obtained with the use of 3 optical data acquired at different moments of the growth season (beginning of spring, end of spring, mid-summer). Due to the presence of clouds it is not always possible to obtain these three images within a delay compatible with the needs of the European Union.

Radar data can overcome these problems because the microwaves are not sensitive to the composition of the atmosphere. Moreover, the very good orbital stability of the platforms allows the generation of very accurate times series.

The overall objective of the project is to strengthen the Belgian Ministry of Agriculture Control System and to guarantee strict delivery deadlines of the controls by using time series of SAR images and combinations of SAR and optical data.

More specifically, the project aims:

- to develop a Geographic Information System that allows the planning of the SAR and INSAR products acquisition from platforms actually in orbit or planned in the near future as well as the qualification of these products regarding to their use, i.e. the crop monitoring;
- to describe and implement the processing chains and the algorithms used for the generation of SAR and INSAR calibrated and georeferenced time series as well as quality reports of these data at field scale;
- to generate the interpretation schemes of ERS and ENVISAT (in the same configuration of ERS) SAR time series and optical-SAR combined products;
- to generate the interpretation schemes dedicated to other sensors (RADARSAT, other configuration of ENVISAT) or products (INSAR).

This project is based on a five-year experience of the MILA department in the field of radar remote sensing and crop monitoring and on a unique set of 60 SAR images and synchronous field data acquired between 1995 and 1999.

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