Washington: To know precisely where agricultural land is located for regional and global food security planning, two new maps offer a clearer view of global agriculture.
The maps have been developed by Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
The first map shows global cropland percentages at one-km resolution for the year 2005.
"Current sources of information on cropland extent are not accurate enough for most applications. The global cropland map is a low cost solution to fill this need," said IIASA researcher Steffen Fritz who led the project.
The study also presents the first ever global field-size map - an important proxy for mechanisation and human development.
This map was based entirely on crowd sourced data collected through IIASA's Geo-Wiki project that looked at thousands of high resolution images of land cover to determine whether cropland was present or not.
"The field size map is really unique - no such global product currently exists," added IIASA researcher and co-author Linda See.
According to the researchers, the new maps show the power of crowd sourcing for massive data analysis projects.
The study appeared in the journal Global Change Biology.