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

Case Study: EO DIP – Validation of Rural Payments

General Information

  • Provider: Environment Systems
  • Technology utilised: Earth observation (EO) – optical and radar
  • Thematic area: Environment
  • End user(s): Defra EO Centre of Excellence, Rural Payments Agency


  • 2016

This project was co-funded by SSGP and the Defra EO Centre of Excellence.

Remote sensing is already used to carry out three quarters of the on the spot inspections to determine the eligibility of Basic Payment Scheme claims. The introduction by Common Agricultural Policy of new ‘greening’ rules, such as crop diversification, and ecological sensitive areas means checking has to pick up a greater range of land uses, requiring more sophisticated and efficient remote sensing.

Pilots objectives

  • Test ways of using very high resolution (VHR), high resolution (HR) optical, and radar data with more sophisticated processing techniques to identify land use change and additional land uses required by the greening rules.
  • Extend CwRS process to meet CAP greening requirements.

Project outcomes

The project concluded that Sentinel-1 images can alone be used for producing crop classification with accuracies close to 85% for the main crops. The test method proved immediately operationally useful and adoption plans  have been proposed. Cost avoidance - continuation of field inspection approach would lead to the burden of physically visiting the fields to identifying crop types. Another business benefit of the project was the mitigation of unplanned external supplier costs and risk of EU penalties that arise when crop map could not be produced using optical satellite images due to poor weather conditions.

Next steps

Prototyping to prepare for operation and design new working practices. Establishing how pilot and the methods can help with updating the Land Parcel Information System (LPIS), which is the main instrument for identifying and quantifying the land eligible for payments. Improvements in LPIS can help reduce disallowance and reduce the number of inspections needed.