Using remote sensing to improve knowledge of UK horticulture - Polytunnels (MSc Projects)


CP 146 - Using remote sensing to improve knowledge of UK horticulture - Polytunnels (MSc Projects)

Start Date: 
Completion Date: 
Project Leader: 
Dr Toby Waine, Cranfield University
CP 146

HDC project cost: £9,500


Project summary:

The main function of the HDC is to provide near market research for the horticultural industry, and to do so effectively it should maintain an overview of the industry as a whole to monitor significant changes in structure so that it can provide for new challenges to growers. Probably the biggest structural change in recent years is the rapid increase in the production of protected soft fruit under polytunnels. The structures used by growers are either temporary or semi-permanent and as such they are not normally identified on Ordnance Survey maps (although polytunnels may sometimes occupy the sites of historic glasshouses). By using satellite remote sensing the characteristic features of polytunnels can be detected and discriminated from other buildings or cover. Novel digital classification techniques will identify the polytunnels to produce a digital map layer that can be used by HDC to cross-reference against farm ownership datasets.


Aims and objectives:

(i) Project aim(s):
To develop a methodology to enable HDC to identify and locate polytunnels for the purposes of developing and maintaining a strategic overview of a rapidly expanding industry sector and to assist with levy enforcement
(ii) Project objective(s):
1. Identify the different types of polytunnel available in the UK to understand the physical characteristics for discrimination from other similar features such as glasshouses, fleece, and other temporary buildings.
2. Identify, test and evaluate remote sensing technologies and image processing techniques for identifying polytunnels. Remote sensing technologies might include optical (Landsat 8, UK-DMC2) and/or radar (Sentinel-1). This will include ground data collections for training and/or validation at chosen pilot sites.
3. Make recommendations for a suitable methodology that is repeatable and extensible to the whole UK.
4. In consultation with HDC, make recommendations for implementing a system to deliver polytunnel location data in a preferred format (e.g. geodatabase) or web service with suggested update cycles.
5. Present the project (oral and poster presentations) at the Cranfield MSc project exhibition day (Wed 6 May 2015) – HDC invited to attend.
6. Submit a single final report describing the work completed and recommendations.
7. Provide (as requested) a written item on the project for HDC News and to present results at an HDC event.