Acquiring multi-temporal spatial information on vegetation condition at scales appropriate for site-specific agricultural management is often complicated by the need for meticulous field measurements. Understanding spatial/temporal crop cover heterogeneity within irrigated croplands may support sustainable land use, specifically in areas affected by land degradation due to secondary soil salinization. This study demonstrates the use of multi-temporal, high spatial resolution (10 m) SPOT-4/5 image data in an integrated change vector analysis and spectral mixture analysis (CVA-SMA) procedure. This procedure was implemented with the principal objective of mapping sub-field vegetation cover dynamics in irrigated lowland areas within the lowerlands of the Amu Darya River. CVA intensity and direction were calculated separately for the periods of 1998–2006 and 2006–2010. Cumulative change intensity and the overall directional trend were also derived for the entire observation period of 1998–2010. Results show that most of the vector changes were observed between 1998 and 2006; persistent conditions were seen within the study region during the 2006–2010 period. A decreasing vegetation cover trend was identified within 38% of arable land. Areas of decreasing vegetation cover were located principally in the irrigation system periphery where deficient water supply and low soil quality lead to substandard crop development. During the 2006–2010 timeframe, degraded crop cover conditions persisted in 37% of arable land. Vegetation cover increased in 25% of the arable land where irrigation water supply was adequate. This high sub-field crop performance spatial heterogeneity clearly indicates that current land management practices are inefficient. Such information can provide the basis for implementing and adapting irrigation applications and salt leaching techniques to site-specific conditions and thereby make a significant contribution to sustainable regional land management.
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