Technology targeting for sustainable intensification of crop production in the Delta region of Bangladesh
Remote sensing data are nowadays being acquired within short intervals and made available at a low cost or for free. This opens up opportunities for new remote sensing applications, such as the characterization of entire regions to identify most suitable areas for technology targeting. Increasing population growth and changing dietary habits in South Asia call for higher cereal production to ensure future food security. In the Delta area of Bangladesh, surface water is considered to be available in quantities large enough to support intensification by adding an irrigated dry season crop. Fuel-efficient, low lift axial flow pumps have shown to be suitable to carry water to fields that are within a buffer of four hundred meters of the rivers. However, information on how and where to target surface water irrigation efforts is currently lacking. We describe the opportunities and constraints encountered in developing a procedure to identify cropland for which axial flow pumps could be successfully deployed upon in a 43’000 km2 area. First, we isolated cropland and waterways using Landsat 5 and 7 scenes using image segmentation followed by classification with the random forest algorithm. Based on Landsat 7 and 8 scenes, we extracted maximum dry season enhanced vegetation index (EVI) values, which we classified into fallow, low-, and high-intensity cropland for the last three years. Last, we investigated the potential for surface water irrigation on fallow and low-intensity land by applying a cropping risk matrix to address the twin threats of soil and water salinity. Our analysis indicates that there are at least 20,000 ha of fallow land under the low-risk category, while more than 100,000 ha of low-intensity cropland can be brought into intensified production. This information will aid in technology targeting for the efficient deployment of surface water irrigation as a tool for intensification.