Through the MARS programme of the European Commission, agriculture in Europe has been supported by remote sensing for years. In 2014, the programme was on its fourth term, but its purpose remains unchanged: Inform European policy-makers about the condition of the most prominent crops in Europe and worldwide.
To further refine statistical monitoring of agricultural crops in European Union Member States, the European Commission launched the MARSOP programme (Monitoring Agricultural ResourceS - OPerational) in 2000. Ever since, a consortium of partners has been using the data of several satellites: SPOT-VEGETATION, NOAA-AVHRR, METOP-AVHRR, MODIS and METEOSAT. Based on 10-daily satellite images, vegetation models are constructed. The European Commission uses these models for a number of purposes, including: to set prices for wheat, adapt import and export schedules, provide practical support for European farmers or develop food aid programmes.
MARSOP-3 ended in April 2014. In February 2014, the new, biennial MARSOP-4 started with the same goals.
VITO collects data from European satellites and translates it into products with useful crop information. Over the years, several multiannual archives have been constructed (NOAA since 1981, VEGETATION/PROBA since 1998, etc.). Every 10 days, new data are added to those archives and immediately sent to the MARS unit of the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra, Italy.
- Framework contract between VITO-TAP (Department Teledetection and Atmospheric Processes) and the European Commission (JRC-MARS)
- Duration: February 2015 - January 2019
- Budget: €2,200,000