Mato Grosso Land Cover

Soy next to forest in Mato Grosso, Brazil
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Published June 13, 2017
Location Mato Grosso, Brazil
Categories Agriculture, Land Cover
Authors Chris Bishop, Jude Kastens
License Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives - Creative Commons License


Mato Grosso is a frontier in the sense that natural vegetation, both rainforest and savanna, known as cerrado, are being replaced with crop production and other agricultural uses. Mechanized agriculture moved rapidly into the area in the 1990s, with soybeans the dominant crop. Since then, crop production increases have come about through both cropland expansion (horizontal intensification) and a transition from predominantly single-cropping to mostly double-cropping (vertical intensification). In July 2006, the Soy Moratorium was implemented with the purpose of reducing Amazon deforestation for the purpose of soy production.


Normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) were used to characterize the spatial dynamics of agriculture in the state of Mato Grosso (MT), Brazil. With these data, it has become possible to track MT agriculture, which accounts for about 85% of Brazilian Amazon soy production. To interpret the satellite data, researchers from Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Embrapa), the Brazilian equivalent of the USDA, collected an unprecedented amount of ground reference data in Mato Grosso by interviewing farmers, tracing field boundaries on printed satellite imagery and obtaining cropping histories for various parcels of land. This unique, spatially extensive 9-year (2005-2013) ground reference dataset was used to classify, with approximately 80% accuracy, the MODIS NDVI data. The results were merged with carefully processed annual forest and sugarcane coverages developed by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) to produce land cover maps for MT for the 2001-2014 crop years, where a crop year runs from August of the preceding year through July of the nominal year. Static urban and water layers, obtained from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), round out the land cover maps.


Land cover raster data are in the UTM Zone 21S (WGS84) projection with a (0,0) registration coordinate and a 240-m pixel size (5.76 ha/pixel). These and other data are available for download from PLOS ONE. Ancillary vector data layers were obtained from IBGE.


Land Cover Data Citation

Kastens JH, Brown JC, Coutinho AC, Bishop CR, Esquerdo JCDM (2017). Soy moratorium impacts on soybean and deforestation dynamics in Mato Grosso, Brazil. PLoS ONE 12(4): e0176168. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176168

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Related Articles

Brown JC, Kastens JH, Coutinho AC, Victoria DC, Bishop CR (2013). Classifying multiyear agricultural land use data from Mato Grosso using time-series MODIS vegetation index data, Remote Sensing of Environment 130(3): 39-50. DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2012.11.009

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Brown JC, Jepson WE, Kastens JH, Wardlow BD, Lomas JM, and Price KP (2007). High temporal resolution remote sensing of modern agricultural production and land modification in the Brazilian Amazon. GIScience and Remote Sensing 44(2): 117-148. DOI: 10.2747/1548-1603.44.2.117

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