Two shifts for crop mapping: Leveraging aggregate crop statistics to improve satellite-based maps in new regions

Crop type mapping at the field level is critical for a variety of applications in agricultural monitoring, and satellite imagery is becoming an increasingly abundant and useful raw input from which to create crop type maps. Still, in many regions crop type mapping with satellite data remains constrained by a scarcity of field-level crop labels for training supervised classification models. When training data is not available in one region, classifiers trained in similar regions can be transferred, but shifts in the distribution of crop types as well as transformations of the features between regions lead to reduced classification accuracy. We present a methodology that uses aggregate-level crop statistics to correct the classifier by accounting for these two types of shifts. To adjust for shifts in the crop type composition we present a scheme for properly reweighting the posterior probabilities of each class that are output by the classifier. To adjust for shifts in features we propose a method to estimate and remove linear shifts in the mean feature vector. We demonstrate that this methodology leads to substantial improvements in overall classification accuracy when using Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) to map crop types in Occitanie, France and in Western Province, Kenya. When using LDA as our base classifier, we found that in France our methodology led to percent reductions in misclassifications ranging from 2.8% to 42.2% (mean = 21.9%) over eleven different training departments, and in Kenya the percent reductions in misclassification were 6.6%, 28.4%, and 42.7% for three training regions. While our methodology was statistically motivated by the LDA classifier, it can be applied to any type of classifier. As an example, we demonstrate its successful application to improve a Random Forest classifier.