Managing Agricultural Areas through Space Applications and GISTDA Initiatives: Thailand

The Land Development Department of Thailand (LDD), uses space applications to support the country’s agricultural sector in many ways, including surveying soil classification for agricultural planning, and for agricultural land census. Surveying soil classification for agricultural planning uses satellite images in combination with aerial imagery, such as through the Soil series visualisation system. This allows soil classification throughout Thailand by Soil Group and Soil Series to be used for agricultural planning including the soil guide, and on farm platforms, which is perfectly aligned with the Plan of Action to share knowledge on developing soil maps for ecosystem management. Much in the same way, the agricultural land census uses satellite images, in combination with aerial imagery, to support agricultural policy and planning. This allows decision makers to better understand the true cost of agricultural production and to be able to appropriately forecast agricultural production (See the LDD Zoning application). The main challenges for both soil classification and agricultural land census include the high expense of satellite image data and high definition aerial imagery and the lack of staff needed to survey the whole country.

In line with Thailand’s National Strategy 2018-2037 mandate on smart farming, Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) uses geographic and spatial technology to monitor and manage agricultural areas, especially the major economic crop areas of the country, such as rice, corn, cassava, and sugarcane. Satellite data is used to track all four types of cultivated crops in 2-week intervals covering the whole country, report the situation of cultivated land, from planting to harvest, including the estimated harvest date. This allows management and production in each area to become more efficient.

Additional details and more practices like this can be found in Geospatial Practices for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific 2020: A Compendium