CROP TYPE MAPPING FROM A SEQUENCE OF TERRASAR-X IMAGES WITH DYNAMIC CONDITIONAL RANDOM FIELDS
Keywords: Dynamic Conditional Random Fields (DCRFs), conditional random fields (CRFs), phenology, spatial-temporal classification, TerraSAR-X
Abstract. Crop phenology is dynamic as it changes with times of the year. Such biophysical processes also look spectrally different to remote sensing satellites. Some crops may depict similar spectral properties if their phenology coincide, but differ later when their phenology diverge. Thus, conventional approaches that select only images from phenological stages where crops are distinguishable for classification, have low discrimination. In contrast, stacking images within a cropping season limits discrimination to a single feature space that can suffer from overlapping classes. Since crop backscatter varies with time, it can aid discrimination. Therefore, our main objective is to develop a crop sequence classification method using multitemporal TerraSAR-X images. We adopt first order markov assumption in undirected temporal graph sequence. This property is exploited to implement Dynamic Conditional Random Fields (DCRFs). Our DCRFs model has a repeated structure of temporally connected Conditional Random Fields (CRFs). Each node in the sequence is connected to its predecessor via conditional probability matrix. The matrix is computed using posterior class probabilities from association potential. This way, there is a mutual temporal exchange of phenological information observed in TerraSAR-X images. When compared to independent epoch classification, the designed DCRF model improved crop discrimination at each epoch in the sequence. However, government, insurers, agricultural market traders and other stakeholders are interested in the quantity of a certain crop in a season. Therefore, we further develop a DCRF ensemble classifier. The ensemble produces an optimal crop map by maximizing over posterior class probabilities selected from the sequence based on maximum F1-score and weighted by correctness. Our ensemble technique is compared to standard approach of stacking all images as bands for classification using Maximum Likelihood Classifier (MLC) and standard CRFs. It outperforms MLC and CRFs by 7.70% and 6.42% in overall accuracy, respectively.