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JECAM | Joint Experiment for Crop Assessment and Monitoring

Brazil - Tocantins

Project Overview

Crop identification and Crop Area Estimation:

 Note: To support the Brazilian Low Carbon Agriculture Program (ABC Program)

Crop Condition/Stress:  not at the moment

Soil Moisture: not at the moment

Yield Prediction and Forecasting: not at the moment

Crop Residue, Tillage and Crop Cover Mapping:

Project Reports

2017 Site Progress Report

  1. Bellón, B., Bégué, A., Simões, M., Ferraz, R., Lo Seen, D., Lebourgeois, V. Presentation of the Brazil – Tocantins site activities. JECAM/GEOGLAM Science Meeting, Kiev, 11-12 October, 2016 (poster)

Implementation Plans

Aim: Support the Brazilian Low Carbon Agriculture Program (ABC Program)

Main agricultural systems:

Double cropping system of summer soybean monoculture (mostly no-tillage or minority with conventional tillage), usually with a cereal crop (corn, millet or sorghum) at the end of the same season; 634 800 hectares for the whole state of Tocantins.
Sugarcane crop (burning and/or mechanized harvesting); 31 150 hectares for the whole state of Tocantins.
Pasture/livestock, mostly livestock on planted pasture (extensive production); different pasture conditions (good to degraded); integrated crop-livestock systems (only present in some farms but the adoption of these systems tends to grow in the region).

Crop Conditions/Stress:

Despite the regional climate having a pronounced dry season, the annual grain-crops cultivation is carried out in the rainy season, so there are no pronounced water stress events during the growing season of this type of crops. However, if there is any irregularity in rainfall, especially at the end of the rainy season (which is locally called "veranico"), there may be some level of water stress on non-irrigated crops, especially in areas where soils have sandy textures, such as Entisols, which are excessively or strongly drained.
Long-cycle crops, such as sugarcane, may be affected by different levels of water stress, depending on the conditions of culture, soil types and phenological stage. As for pastures, a strong decrease in biomass production during the dry season is frequently observed as a result of water scarcity conditions. Phytopathological damage and plant stress occur sporadically on localized areas.

Soil Moisture:

Besides depressed areas (flood plains) with hydromorphic soils (soils saturated with water most of the year), most of the regional soils are well drained. The amount of soil moisture retention therefore depends on the mulch management and, significantly, on the texture of the soil (soil moisture retention being proportional to the amount of clay in the soil).

Crop Residue, Tillage and Crop Cover Mapping:

Most of the area has adopted no-tillage/zero tillage systems. This technology consists in sowing directly on the straw-mulch of previous crop residues. Typically, in the double cropping system, soybean is sown directly over the second crop’s (cereal) residues, and in some cases the straw of desiccated grass (Brachiaria is sometimes planted after the second crop in order to add more straw to the mulch cover).
However, some fields undergo conventional tillage; either when cereal residues are collected for use as fodder, (soil is therefore left exposed), or when soils are limed (technique that involves the application of calcium and magnesium materials to soil to correct acidity). No tillage is also required for sugarcane ratooning, however in the burnt cane harvested fields, conventional tillage is still applied.

Other Site Specifications:

The Tocantins JECAM site is part of the MATOPIBA Region, a new agricultural expansion area in Brazil.



Plans for Next Growing Season:

Next growing season, will you maintain your current approach, or modify the approach? If you plan to modify, please describe your new approach.

Classification tests are ongoing with time series clustering methods such as dynamic time wrapping (DTW) clustering, which seem more appropriate, regarding the input data, than the original k-means clustering approach.

Site Description


Site Extent   Centroid: ---, ---
Top left: -9.044, -48.324 Bottom Right: -9.270, -48.084

Municipality of Pedro Afonso and surroundings (Center-North Region of Brazil).



Climatic Zone:

Megathermal wet weather (Thormthwaite-Mather (1955))

Average annual rainfall from 1700 to 1800 mm, with moderate winter water deficit

Potential evapotranspiration showing an annual average variation between 1,400 and 1.700 mm and an average of 28% in summer (three consecutive months with higher temperature)

Landscape topography:

Dominance of the topographic modeled type A: Areas with mild relief, slightly undulating with soft slopes (declivity equal to or less than 5%) in which, in most soils, the runoff is slow or medium.

Subdominance of the topographic modeled type B: Areas with sloping surfaces (declivity greater than 5% and equal or less than 10%), usually with undulating relief, in which the runoff, for most soils is medium or fast.


Dominance of Yellowish-Red Oxisols and Entisols.

Yellowish-Red Oxisols - Medium to clay texture. Range from strongly drained to well drained depending on their texture and porosity, but can have adequate moisture.

Entisols (Quartzipsamments) - Sandy texture. Range from of excessively drained to strongly drained depending on their topographic position and the level of the water table, they may have moisture limitations in dry periods.

Irrigation Infrastructures

Center-pivot irrigation systems.

Crop calendar:

Double cropping system:

Summer soybean crop - from November to February (harvest in January/February)
Cereal crop - from March to May (harvest in April/June)

Sugarcane crop: annual cycle (12 months) or longer (18 months)

Field size:

Mostly large (fazendas with fields of ~ 100 ha), and some smallholders

Agricultural methods:

Seeding, fertilization, pesticide application and harvest are carried out with mechanical equipment.

Concerning soil management, most of the area has adopted no-tillage/zero tillage systems. Very few fields undergo conventional management with plowing, harrowing and occasional liming. 

Image 1. Crop Cover Millet Residues

Image 2. Center-pivot irrigation over sugar cane plantation

Image 3. Rubber Tree (Hevea brasiliensis) plantation



 Image 4. Soybean growing over corn residue 



Image 5. Soybean processing and refining plant 


 Image 6. Sugarcane Mill


Image 7. Field undergoing conventional tillage and liming


Image 8. Cattle grazing in open grassland field   

Image 9. Confined meat cattle

Specific Project Objectives & Deliverables

We used an unsupervised object-based classification approach for LULC mapping.

« Multiresolution segmentation » (eCognition Developer):
Image Layers = B, V, R, NIR, MIR (Landsat 8 image at original 30m spatial resolution)

Scale parameter = 110
Shape = 0.8
Compactness = 1
Segmentation extract:

Extraction of the median NDVI value per segmented object from the MODIS time series : 


The next steps include the classification of the resultant median values. The classification results are expected to improve with respect to last year’s classification results, in particular for the sugarcane fields with a long cultural cycle (18 moths) which should be differentiated from grassland fields with the new longer time series (24-months).

In Situ Observations

  1. Parameter: Land Use Cover
    Data Collection Protocol:

    Land use and land cover observations were carried out following the JECAM field data collection guidelines. 256 GPS waypoints were collected during the land use survey using the high resolution Landsat 8 image of the 28th of July printed in an A1 format for tracking the observations.

    Attributes of the database include centroid position, date of entry, land use information (Crop/ non crop, cropping pattern) and georeferenced photo ID.


EO Data Requirements

Approximate Start Date of Acquisition: July 28
Approximate End Date of Acquisition:
Spatial Resolution: 30 m
Temporal Frequency: 16 days
Latency of Data Delivery:
Wavelengths Required: XS
Across Swath:
Along Track:

SAR Data Requirements

Approximate Start Date of Acquisition: October 24
Approximate End Date of Acquisition: September 2016
Spatial Resolution: 250 m
Temporal Frequency:
Latency of Data Delivery:
Wavelengths Required: NDVI
Incidence Angle Restrictions:
Across Track:
Along Track:



Latitude: ---
Longitude: ---

Site Extent
Top left
Latitude: -9.044
Longitude: ---
Bottom Right
Latitude: -9.270
Longitude: -48.084

Optical Sensors

Landsat 8/ OLI
Imaging Mode:
Spatial Resolution: 30
Acquisition Frequency: 16 days
Pre-Processing Level:

Imaging Mode:
Spatial Resolution: 250 m
Acquisition Frequency: 46 scenes ( 1 scene = 16 day composite)
Pre-Processing Level:

JECAM | Joint Experiment for Crop Assessment and Monitoring | Group on Earth Observation

©2013 Joint Experiment for Crop Assessment and Monitoring © HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN IN RIGHT OF CANADA SA MAJESTE LA REINE DU CHEF DU CANADA (2012)