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A random forest-based framework for crop mapping using temporal, spectral, textural and polarimetric observations

Khosravi, Iman, Alavipanah, Seyed Kazem
International journal of remote sensing 2019 v.40 no.18 pp. 7221-7251
data collection, information sources, monitoring, polarimetry, remote sensing, satellites, synthetic aperture radar, unmanned aerial vehicles, vegetation index, Manitoba
Combining optical and polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (PolSAR) earth observations offers a complementary data set with a significant number of spectral, textural, and polarimetric features for crop mapping and monitoring. Moreover, a temporal combination of both sources of information may lead to obtaining more reliable results compared to the use of single-time observations. In this paper, an operational framework based on the stacked generalization of random forest (RF), which efficiently employed bi-temporal observations of optical and radar data, was proposed for crop mapping. In the first step, various spectral, vegetation index, textural, and polarimetric features were extracted from both data sources and placed into several groups. Each group was classified separately using a single RF classifier. Then, several additional classification tasks were accomplished by another RF classifier. The earth observations used in this paper were collected by RapidEye satellites and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) system over an agricultural region near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The results confirmed that the proposed methodology was able to provide a higher overall accuracy and kappa coefficient than traditional stacking method, and also than all the individual RFs using each group. These accuracy metrics were also better than those of the RFs using the stacked features. Moreover, only the proposed methodology could achieve standard accuracy (F-score ≥85%) for all crop types in the study area. The visual comparison also demonstrated that the crop maps produced by the proposed methodology had more homogeneous, uniform appearances. Moreover, the mixed pixels of crop types, which abundantly existed in the traditional stacking and individual RFs̕ maps, were significantly eliminated.