Large-Scale Rice Mapping Using Multi-Task Spatiotemporal Deep Learning and Sentinel-1 SAR Time Series

Zhixian Lin, Renhai Zhong, Xingguo Xiong, Changqiang Guo, Jinfan Xu, Yue Zhu, Jialu Xu, Yibin Ying, K. C. Ting, Jingfeng Huang, Tao Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Timely and accurate cropland information at large spatial scales can improve crop management and support the government in decision making. Mapping the spatial extent and distribution of crops on a large spatial scale is challenging work due to the spatial variability. A multi-task spatiotemporal deep learning model, named LSTM-MTL, was developed in this study for large-scale rice mapping by utilizing time-series Sentinel-1 SAR data. The model showed a reasonable rice classification accuracy in the major rice production areas of the U.S. (OA = 98.3%, F1 score = 0.804), even when it only utilized SAR data. The model learned region-specific and common features simultaneously, and yielded a significant improved performance compared with RF and AtBiLSTM in both global and local training scenarios. We found that the LSTM-MTL model achieved a regional F1 score up to 10% higher than both global and local baseline models. The results demonstrated that the consideration of spatial variability via LSTM-MTL approach yielded an improved crop classification performance at a large spatial scale. We analyzed the input-output relationship through gradient backpropagation and found that low VH value in the early period and high VH value in the latter period were critical for rice classification. The results of in-season analysis showed that the model was able to yield a high accuracy (F1 score = 0.746) two months before rice maturity. The integration between multi-task learning and multi-temporal deep learning approach provides a promising approach for crop mapping at large spatial scales.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number699
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022


  • Deep learning
  • Long short-term memory
  • Multi-task learning
  • Rice mapping
  • Sentinel-1
  • Spatiotemporal analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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