Comparison between land suitability and actual crop distribution in an irrigation district of the Ebro valley (Spain)
AbstractThe present research aims to obtain a better insight into the agreement between land evaluation results and actual crop spatial distribution by comparing biophysical land suitability with different crop frequency parameters and with crop rotations derived from multi-year crop maps. The research was carried out in the Flumen district (33,000 ha), which is located in the Ebro Valley (Northeast Spain). Land evaluation was based on a 1:100,000 soil survey according to the FAO framework for the main crops in the study area (alfalfa, winter cereals, maize, rice and sunflower). Three crop frequency maps and a crop rotation map, derived from a time-series of Landsat TM and ETM+ images of the period 1993-2000 were used for comparison with land suitability maps. The relationships between the two types of variables were analyzed by means of statistical tests (Pearson chi-square (chi2), Cramer's V, Gamma and Somers' D). The results show the existence of a significant (P=0.001) relationship between crops' location and land suitability, except for opportunist crops as sunflower, which is very much influenced by subsidies in the study period. The alfalfa-based rotations show the highest distribution percentages (52%) on the land most suitable for agriculture in the area. The present multitemporal analysis approach offers a more realistic insight than the comparison between a land evaluation map and static year crop map in assessing the degree of agreement of land evaluation recommendations with crops actually cultivated by farmers.
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