Using out-of-sample yield forecast experiments to evaluate which earth observation products best indicate end of season maize yields

Environmental Research Letters
By: , and 

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Abstract

In East Africa, accurate grain yield predictions can help save lives and protect livelihoods. Regional grain yield forecasts can inform decisions regarding the availability and prices of key staples, food aid, and large humanitarian responses. Here, we use earth observation (EO) products to develop and evaluate subnational grain yield forecasts for 56 regions located in two severely food insecure countries: Kenya and Somalia. We identify, for a given region and time of year, which, if any, product is the best indicator for end-of-season maize yields. Our analysis seeks to inform a real-world situation in which analysts have access to multiple regularly updated EO data products, but predictive skill corresponding to each may vary across these regions and throughout the season. We find that the most accurate predictions can be made for high-producing areas, but that the relationship between production and forecast accuracy diminishes in areas with yields averaging greater than one metric ton per hectare. However, while forecast accuracy is highest in high production areas, in many of these regions, the forecast accuracy of models using EO products is not better than a set of baseline models that do not use EO products. Overall, we find that rainfall is the best indicator in low-producing regions and that other EO products work best in areas where yields are relatively consistent, but production is still limited by environmental factors.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using out-of-sample yield forecast experiments to evaluate which earth observation products best indicate end of season maize yields
Series title Environmental Research Letters
DOI 10.1088/1748-9326/ab5ccd
Volume 14
Issue 2
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher IOP Science
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 124095, 13 p.
Country Kenya, Somalia
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