Anja Herkner
Institute of Rural Studies

Bundesallee 64
38116 Braunschweig
Phone: +49 531 596 5501
Fax: +49 531 596 5599

Development of an automated support system to monitor agricultural funding sites (timeStamp)


Identification of land use by Sentinel-1 satellite image time series (c) Bild links [image left]: -  Bild rechts [image right]:
Recording of land-use by remote-sensing (© Bild links [image left]: - Bild rechts [image right]:

Site-related measures in the agricultural funding are currently checked with time - and cost-intensive on spot checks. A Web application, based on remote sensing data, should change that.

Background and Objective

The good spatial coverage and high temporal resolution of the Sentinel satellites of the Earth observation programme of Copernicus today allow a close temporal recording of agricultural land use and identification of use changes.

With the help of satellite data, administrative authorities can reduce time - and cost-intensive on spot checks in the area of site monitoring and automate workflows.

Within the framework of the project "timeStamp", scientists of the Thünen Institute are developing a web application to evaluate whether the declared land use corresponds with the actual land use. The web application is developed for the use case to monitor catch crop sites in the context of the EU agricultural funding (CAP). In addition, a multifunctional basic function provides interdisciplinary information on land-use changes in use in the form of standard time series and test parameters as well as change indicators from remote sensing data.


Target Group

Ministries of agriculture and environment, land authorities, official nature conservation, agricultural administration, European Commission


The following steps will be undertaken:


  • Preparation of user workshops with cooperating authorities.
  • Determination of the subject-specific and technical requirements of the web application to be developed.
  • Based on the requirements analysis, the processed satellite-image time series of Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 are used to develop appropriate indicators and evaluation approaches (algorithms) and be validated by test data sets to monitor the lifetime of catch crops.
  • The evaluation algorithms for the application are transferred to a cloud-based processing environment.
  • The target is to automate object-related evaluation of remote sensing data for the surface geometries to be monitored.
  • Development of a user friendly web application to provide the data exchange, the selection of test indicators for the control sites and a spatial visualization of the analysis results fitted with subject-specific references (e.g., a traffic-light system) for further processing.

Data and Methods

By analyzing the Sentinel-1 (radar) and Sentinel-2 (spectral) time series data, algorithms for the identification of catch crops can be derived using appropriate metrics (measures) and indices for seeding, growth and plough of the catch crops.

For the development of the algorithms, catch-crop sites in the field are mapped and InVekoS and on-site control data are used as training and test data.

The technical infrastructure of the application is implemented in the Microsoft AzureCloud using docker containers as a modular backend. Via the user interface, users can create, send and manage test jobs as well as display and download the results.

Our Research Questions

  • What subject-specific requirements (required input data, metrics, indicators, temporal rhythms of the evaluations) have the respective authorities to the web application?
  • What are technical requirements for the target system (including data formats, software environments, interfaces, programming languages)?
  • What are appropriate metrics, indicators, and algorithms (e.g., NDVI, matching with phenological pattern profiles,) to recognize the lifetime of catch crops?

Preliminary Results

The prototype of the timeStamp application provides a cloud-based software infrastructure for automated remote analysis.

The user interface allows even users with only basic knowledge about remote sensing to integrate satellite data into their work.

The multifunctional basic function offers evaluation options for a variety of questions concerning land monitoring in environmental and nature conservation. The verification of catch crop sites is based on the analysis of the temporal pattern of the vegetation index (NDVI). From a set of test parameters (e.g. minima, maxima, trends) the probability of the presence of a catch crop is calculated. The site-specific evaluation results and the output of visual control instructions can support a targeted planning of spot checks.

Within the project 'Copernicus lights green' the application is to be developed further, migrated to CODE-DE and prepared for operational use.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
    (national, öffentlich)
  • German Aerospace Center (DLR)
    (national, öffentlich)


8.2018 - 2.2021

More Information

Projekt type:
Project funding number: 50EW1704A
Funding program: DLR - Entwicklung und Implementierungsvorbereitung von Copernicus Diensten für den öffentlichen Bedarf in Deutschland
Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

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