Enabling the public sector to save money, innovate and make more effective policy decisions by using space technology and data

Case Study: Environment Systems Ltd – Use of EO for Greening the CAP and Compliance Checking

General Information

  • Provider: Led by Environment Systems Ltd, with project partners eftec, and Team Projects Ltd
  • Technology utilised: Earth observation (EO)
  • Thematic area: Environment
  • End user(s): RPA, wider Defra network
  • Website: www.envsys.co.uk


  • 2015

Project Background / Overview

The aim of this project was to address how new ‘greening’ rules can be met through the use of Earth observation.  These new greening rules will become part of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), set to replace the current Single Payment Scheme (SPS) from 2015 onwards. These criteria, being based essentially on defined areas of crops, land cover and habitats on the ground, lend themselves to an evaluation and control through remote sensing and Earth observation. The project had four main work packages:

  • Identify Defra needs for the control of Greening;
  • Assess the types and attributes of EO data;
  • Make recommendations on usefulness of EO;
  • The potential integration of EO checks into monitoring systems.

Lessons Learned

Four business areas were identified where increased use of EO and related products could add value, see table 1 below:

  • Control with Remote Sensing programme for Basic Payment System:
    • GI integration of Land Parcel Information System (LPIS)
    • Data can provide multi-temporal crop signatures
  • Support for the physical field inspection programme
    • Partial detection of compliance breaches
    • Provides ‘back up’ evidence to inspections
    • Supports choice of farms for inspections​
  • Input to the draft Land Model and Greening data layers:
    • Land model and Greening where multi spectral signatures can be used and a CRICK
    • Framework could be developed for use by RPA
  • Ongoing checks of farmer declarations and other activity to keep the Land Parcel Information System up to date
    • Check and validation of changes to farmers submissions where VHR data could be used to replace some field visits

Costs and Benefits

There is potential to substantially reduce financial penalties (“disallowance”) from the EC by dealing with any known weaknesses in Control with Remote Sensing (CwRS), physical inspections or LPIS.  The total potential avoided cost of additional inspections resulting from increased use of EO data and techniques (which will counter the complexity of controlling new CAP ‘greening’ rules by CwRS) is estimated to be approximately between £400,000/year under the current inspection set up for BPS

Next Steps

A roadmap (see figure below) was created to illustrate the way in which differing types of EO data can be used to support a range of RPA business processes.

Immediate benefit would be from the use of additional and/or more current imagery, in areas where EO data is already used, and the adoption of recently developed image analysis techniques and approaches.

For some work areas, short-term pre-operational technical assessments of the potential value of EO are recommended to evidence the value of EO data and approaches prior to deployment. These proof of concept studies can make use of existing satellite imagery (e.g. from the CwRS zones) or free satellite imagery, such as Landsat and Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 imagery. 

Roadmap showing the way in which differing EO data sources could support RPA business processes