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Tillage practices alter soil surface structure that can be potentially captured by satellite images with both high spatial and temporal resolution. This study explored tillage practice mapping using the daily Planet Fusion surface reflectance (PF-SR) gap-free 3 m data generated by fusing PlanetScope with Landsat-8, Sentinel-2 and MODIS surface reflectance data. The study area is a 220 × 220 km2 agricultural area in South Dakota, USA, and the study used 3285 PF-SR images from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. The PF-SR images for the surveyed 433 fields were sliced into 10,747 training (70%) and evaluation (30%) non-overlapping time series patches. The training and evaluation patches were from different fields for evaluation data independence. The performance of four deep learning models (i.e., 2D convolutional neural networks (CNN), 3D CNN, CNN-Long short-term memory (LSTM), and attention CNN-LSTM) in tillage practice mapping, as well as their sensitivity to different spatial (i.e., 3 m, 24 m, and 96 m) and temporal resolutions (16-day, 8-day, 4-day, 2-day and 1-day) were examined. Classification accuracy continuously increased with increases in both temporal and spatial resolutions. The optimal models (3D CNN and attention CNN-LSTM) achieved ~77% accuracy using 2-day or daily 3 m resolution data as opposed to ~72% accuracy using 16-day 3 m resolution data or daily 24 m resolution data. This study also analyzed the feature importance of different acquisition dates for the two optimal models. The 3D CNN model feature importances were found to agree well with the tillage practice time. High feature importance was associated with observations during the fall and spring tillage period (i.e., fresh tillage signals) whereas the crop peak growing period (i.e., tillage signals weathered and confounded by dense canopy) was characterized by a relatively low feature importance. The work provides valuable insights into the utility of deep learning for tillage mapping and change event time identification based on high resolution imagery.

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Science of Remote Sensing





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.