Spot the Crop

GEOGRAPHY

There’s no easy way to track all of the world’s crops. What’s missing, among other things, is an accurate map showing where they are. But now, a game is turning people into citizen scientists to help identify cropland. (NPR)

Use our MapMaker Interactive to understand cropland and other land cover.

Southern Florida is a perfect case study of cropland, undeveloped, and developed land. I wish I had a higher-resolution of this fantastic image from the good folks at NASA. NASA image by Robert Simmon, based on Landsat 7 data provided by the UMD Global Land Cover Facility

Southern Florida is a perfect case study of cropland, undeveloped, and developed land. I wish I had a higher-resolution of this fantastic image from the good folks at NASA.
NASA image by Robert Simmon, based on Landsat 7 data provided by the UMD Global Land Cover Facility

Discussion Ideas

  • Play a few rounds of “Cropland Capture.” What features identify cropland in an area?
    • neatly marked fields
    • uniform vegetation
    • general lack of trees (except along borders of cropland)
    • general lack of houses, roads, or other infrastructure
    • general uniform elevation—few mountains or valleys
  • A more accurate map of the world’s land cover could “be used by organizations on the ground that work with farmers to manage their crops better and get more out of each harvest,” according to a source quoted in the NPR article. Look at our map of land cover in sub-Saharan Africa. Where is (mapped) cropland presently located? (You might want to adjust the transparency to help identify countries or regions.)
    • Most sub-Saharan cropland is found in South Africa, Madagascar, Ethiopia, and the region in the northern Gulf of Guinea (particularly the southern parts of the nations of Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria).

3 responses to “Spot the Crop

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