Temporal expansion of annual crop classification layers for the CONUS using the C5 decision tree classifier
Crop cover maps have become widely used in a range of research applications. Multiple crop cover maps have been developed to suite particular research interests. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Cropland Data Layers (CDL) are a series of commonly used crop cover maps for the conterminous United States (CONUS) that span from 2008 to 2013. In this investigation, we sought to contribute to the availability of consistent CONUS crop cover maps by extending temporal coverage of the NASS CDL archive back eight additional years to 2000 by creating annual NASS CDL-like crop cover maps derived from a classification tree model algorithm. We used over 11 million records to train a classification tree algorithm and develop a crop classification model (CCM). The model was used to create crop cover maps for the CONUS for years 2000–2013 at 250 m spatial resolution. The CCM and the maps for years 2008–2013 were assessed for accuracy relative to resampled NASS CDLs. The CCM performed well against a withheld test data set with a model prediction accuracy of over 90%. The assessment of the crop cover maps indicated that the model performed well spatially, placing crop cover pixels within their known domains; however, the model did show a bias towards the ‘Other’ crop cover class, which caused frequent misclassifications of pixels around the periphery of large crop cover patch clusters and of pixels that form small, sparsely dispersed crop cover patches.