AMS – a digital tool for crop monitoring

AMS

The Agency for Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture has implemented a new Area Monitoring System (AMS) to verify the condition of agricultural fields. AMS uses satellite imagery to see what is happening in the field, among other things. What agrotechnical treatments are carried out there or how the process of plant growth takes place. At present, the system is only used for administrative checks within the framework of direct and area subsidy campaigns. In the future, however, it is planned to expand it with additional functionality.

Legal basis for the operation of the AMS system

According to Art. 66 par. 1 of the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU) 2021/2116 of December 2, 2021. on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy and repealing Regulation (EU) No. 1306/2013, each paying agency operating in the agricultural sector, starting in 2023, was required to implement an Area Monitoring System (AMS). According to the aforementioned regulations, the AMS is to be part of the system on the basis of which paying agencies provide EU subsidies to farmers. In particular, this applies to subsidies of an area-based nature, related to the land and the crops grown.

How does the AMS system work?

The AMS system is based on the use of satellite imagery, which most often comes from the free COPERNICUS Program from Sentinel-type satellites. These images are acquired at high frequency, i.e. every 3-8 days, making it possible to conduct systematic, long-term observations and analysis of data related to agricultural activities – the occurrence of the crop, the degree of plant vegetation, the agrotechnical procedures performed (harvesting, plowing, mowing).

Analysis of a given agricultural plot can be carried out by building special indicators of plant vegetation, which allow to assess the coverage of the area with vegetation and, in certain cases, their developmental stage. Changes in these indicators indicate that harvesting or other agrotechnical operations have been carried out on a given plot (e.g., plowing, which will change both the presentation of the area on the depiction and cause a decrease in plant vegetation indicators). By analyzing the indicators, it is also possible to determine the time frame in which mowing occurred (or to determine that mowing did not take place), which is a frequent commitment of farmers in agro-environmental and organic practices. Analysis of plant vegetation indices also makes it possible to identify the species or type of crop.

The AMS system will not be used to determine parcel boundaries. The data will be obtained from the Land Parcel Identification System, which is updated annually on the basis of accurate aerial photographs and other sources of information (including from farmers, land and building registration data, and results from on-site inspections).

Application to take geotagged photos

In case the AMS system will not be able to determine whether there is agricultural activity on a given parcel of land or it will be impossible to determine the species/crop type, the AMS system’s information is to be supplemented by a geotagged photo application. These are images taken using a cell phone with a built-in GPS receiver. Each such photograph will have information recorded about where it was taken, that is, the longitude and latitude of that location. The AMS system is to be used only by ARMA employees, while the geotagged photo application is a tool that requires interaction with the farmer. It will make it possible to confirm the implementation of a number of commitments/declarations of farmers, but also to contact agency staff.

AMS system development

AMS system in 2023. was mainly used to make observations on the basic condition for applying for area payments, i.e. conducting agricultural activities on agricultural land. In 2024. monitoring will be expanded to include crop verification and other types of interventions, where information on how farmland is managed has an impact on meeting farmers’ obligations.

The AMS system, as envisioned, is expected to find application in about 35-40 percent of the country. farms whose land parcels are submitted for area support. The rest of them, as well as the conditions for applying for payment that cannot be verified using the AMS system, will be verified on a representative sample selected for this purpose, using traditional inspection methods carried out directly in the field.

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