OVERVIEW: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Cropland Data Layer (CDL) Program is a unique agricultural-specific land cover geospatial product that is reproduced annually in participating states. The CDL Program builds upon NASS' traditional crop acreage estimation program and integrates Farm Service Agency (FSA) grower-reported field data with satellite imagery to create an unbiased statistical estimator of crop area at the state and county level for internal use. It is important to note that the internal acreage estimates produced using the CDL are not simple pixel counting. It is more of an 'Adjusted Census by Satellite.'
SOFTWARE: ERDAS Imagine is used in the pre- and post- processing of all raster-based data. ESRI ArcGIS is used to prepare the vector-based training and validation data. Rulequest See5.0 is used to create a decision tree based classifier. The NLCD Mapping Tool is used to apply the See5.0 decision-tree via ERDAS Imagine.
DECISION TREE CLASSIFIER: This Cropland Data Layer used the decision tree classifier approach. Using a decision tree classifier is a departure from older versions of the CDL which were created using in-house software (Peditor) based upon a maximum likelihood classifier approach. Check the 'Process Description' section of the specific state and year metadata file to verify the methodology used. Decision trees offer several advantages over the more traditional maximum likelihood classification method. The advantages include being: 1) non-parametric by nature and thus not reliant on the assumption of the input data being normally distributed, 2) efficient to construct and thus capable of handling large and complex data sets, 3) able to incorporate missing and non-continuous data, and 4) able to sort out non-linear relationships.
GROUND TRUTH: As with the maximum likelihood method, decision tree analysis is a supervised classification technique. Thus, it relies on having a sample of known ground truth areas in which to train the classifier. Older versions of the CDL (prior to 2006) utilized ground truth data from the annual June Agricultural Survey (JAS). Beginning in 2006, the CDL utilizes the very comprehensive ground truth data provided from the FSA Common Land Unit (CLU) Program as a replacement for the JAS data. The FSA CLU data have the advantage of natively being in a GIS and containing magnitudes more of field level information. Disadvantages include that it is not truly a probability sample of land cover and has bias toward subsidized program crops. Additional information about the FSA data can be found at <https://www.fsa.usda.gov/>.
INPUTS: The CDL is produced using satellite imagery from the Landsat 5 TM sensor, Landsat 7 ETM+ sensor, and the Indian Remote Sensing RESOURCESAT-1 (IRS-P6) Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) collected during the current growing season. For the 2010 CDL Program, the AWiFS imagery was resampled to 30 meters to match the Landsat spatial resolution. The resample used bilinear interpolation, polynomial approximation, polynomial order of 3. Some CDL states used additional satellite imagery and ancillary inputs to supplement and improve the classification. These additional sources can include the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Elevation Dataset (NED), the USGS National Land Cover Database 2001 (NLCD 2001), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 250 meter 16 day Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) composites. Please refer to the 'Supplemental_Information' Section of this metadata file for a complete list of all imagery and ancillary data used to generate this state's CDL.
ACCURACY: The accuracy of the land cover classifications are evaluated using independent validations data sets generated from the FSA CLU data (agricultural categories) and the NLCD 2001 (non-agricultural categories). The Producer's Accuracy is generally 85% to 95% correct for the major crop-specific land cover categories. See the 'Attribute Accuracy Report' section of this metadata file for the full accuracy report.
PUBLIC RELEASE: The USDA, NASS Cropland Data Layer is considered public domain and free to redistribute. The official website is <https://www.nass.usda.gov/Research_and_Science/Cropland/SARS1a.php>. The data is available free for download through CropScape <https://nassgeodata.gmu.edu/CropScape/> and the Geospatial Data Gateway <https://datagateway.nrcs.usda.gov/>. See the 'Ordering Instructions' section of this metadata file for detailed download instructions. Please note that in no case are farmer reported data revealed or derivable from the public use Cropland Data Layer.
Contact_Organization: USDA, NASS, Spatial Analysis Research Section
Contact_Person: USDA, NASS, Spatial Analysis Research Section staff
Address_Type: mailing and physical address
Address: 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 5029 South Building
State_or_Province: District of Columbia