Towards Scalable Within-Season Crop Mapping With Phenology Normalization and Deep Learning

Zijun Yang, Chunyuan Diao, Feng Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Crop-type mapping using time-series remote sensing data is crucial for a wide range of agricultural applications. Crop mapping during the growing season is particularly critical in timely monitoring of the agricultural system. Most existing studies focusing on within-season crop mapping leverage historical remote sensing and crop type reference data for model building, due to the difficulty in obtaining timely crop type samples for the current growing season. Yet the crop type samples from previous years may not be used directly considering the diverse patterns of crop phenology across years and locations, which hampers the scalability and transferability of the model to the current season for timely crop mapping. This article proposes an innovative within-season emergence (WISE) phenology normalized deep learning model towards scalable within-season crop mapping. The crop time-series remote sensing data are first normalized by the WISE crop emergence dates before being fed into an attention-based one-dimensional convolutional neural network classifier. Compared to conventional calendar-based approaches, the WISE-phenology normalization approach substantially helps the deep learning crop mapping model accommodate the spatiotemporal variations in crop phenological dynamics. Results in Illinois from 2017 to 2020 indicate that the proposed model outperforms calendar-based approaches and yields over 90% overall accuracy for classifying corn and soybeans at the end of season. During the growing season, the proposed model can give satisfactory performance (85% overall accuracy) one to four weeks earlier than calendar-based approaches. With WISE-phenology normalization, the proposed model exhibits more stable performance across Illinois and can be transferred to different years with enhanced scalability and robustness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1390-1402
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
StatePublished - 2023


  • Agriculture
  • crop mapping
  • crop phenology
  • deep learning
  • remote sensing
  • time series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Atmospheric Science


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