Crop classification provides relevant information for crop management, food security assurance and agricultural policy design. The availability of Sentinel-1 image time series, with a very short revisit time and high spatial resolution, has great potential for crop classification in regions with pervasive cloud cover. Dense image time series enable the implementation of supervised crop classification schemes based on the comparison of the time series of the element to classify with the temporal signatures of the considered crops. The main objective of this study is to investigate the performance of a supervised crop classification approach based on crop temporal signatures obtained from Sentinel-1 time series in a challenging case study with a large number of crops and a high heterogeneity in terms of agro-climatic conditions and field sizes. The case study considered a large dataset on the Spanish province of Navarre in the framework of the verification of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies. Navarre presents a large agro-climatic diversity with persistent cloud cover areas, and therefore, the technique was implemented both at the provincial and regional scale. In total, 14 crop classes were considered, including different winter crops, summer crops, permanent crops and fallow. Classification results varied depending on the set of input features considered, obtaining Overall Accuracies higher than 70% when the three (VH, VV and VH/VV) channels were used as the input. Crops exhibiting singularities in their temporal signatures were more easily identified, with barley, rice, corn and wheat achieving F1-scores above 75%. The size of fields severely affected classification performance, with ~14% better classification performance for larger fields (>1 ha) in comparison to smaller fields (<0.5 ha). Results improved when agro-climatic diversity was taken into account through regional stratification. It was observed that regions with a higher diversity of crop types, management techniques and a larger proportion of fallow fields obtained lower accuracies. The approach is simple and can be easily implemented operationally to aid CAP inspection procedures or for other purposes.
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