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Satellite data reveals illegal land use in Ukraine

Noosphere Ventures project, EOS Crop Monitoring has launched an interactive satellite map uncovering the real Ukrainian national farmland supply, crop, and soil management situation. The project has revealed illegal land use the size of two New Jerseys – 10.6 mln acres – generating massive off-the-book profits.

A study conducted by the satellite agriculture service EOS Crop Monitoring revealed 10.6 mln acres (4.3 million hectares) of “shadow” land in Ukraine, an Eastern European nation with one of the largest areas of farmland in the world.

The area of unregistered farmland is half the size of Indiana — or two New Jerseys. These fields grow crops generating an estimated profit of $ 3.75 billion, according to Noosphere Ventures.

“The findings serve to increase transparency and data access for businesses preparing for the opening of the Ukrainian land market. The data obtained also allows the assessment of potential risks and opportunities for investment, showing crop rotation deviations as well as yield prediction information,” says the company.

Machine learning algorithms

The project has evaluated the exact field sizes, compared them with the official registry and identified other cultivated yet unregistered land. Using the product’s machine learning algorithms, the company also defines the cultures grown, the yield stats in different regions, as well as any anomalies in crop rotation.

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The EOS Crop Monitoring tools can also view and assess field state, access historical data on individual areas, as well as their actual size and many other indicators. - Photo: EOS Crop Monitoring
The EOS Crop Monitoring tools can also view and assess field state, access historical data on individual areas, as well as their actual size and many other indicators. - Photo: EOS Crop Monitoring

Summing up the research, the company created an interactive Crop Map. The necessary data were gathered under the World Bank’s “Supporting Transparent Land Governance in Ukraine” program. The received data should help increase the transparency of land management and provide important information for investors.

291,000 acres of rapeseed crop coverage

For instance, the project discovered 291,000 acres of rapeseed crop coverage in the Kherson region, an area 33% larger than officially recorded. Crop rotation deviation analysis showed, for example, anomalies with grave violations of proper soil management – in one of the districts, 70% of the land lots for sunflowers had crop rotation violations 2-4 years in a row.

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The tool is designed to enable businesses, insurers, and consultants working with agriculture to assess potential risks and profits, to compare various areas in a search for the most lucrative, and to access crop prediction models. - Photo: EOS Crop Monitoring
The tool is designed to enable businesses, insurers, and consultants working with agriculture to assess potential risks and profits, to compare various areas in a search for the most lucrative, and to access crop prediction models. - Photo: EOS Crop Monitoring

The EOS Crop Monitoring tools can also view and assess field state, access historical data on individual areas, as well as their actual size and many other indicators. “The data provided by the service can prove useful for current and potential investors, as well as hedge funds, giving a comprehensive analysis of the fields and their crops (current and historical),” says Noosphere.

Assess potential risks and profits

The company states the tool is designed to enable businesses, insurers, and consultants working with agriculture to assess potential risks and profits, to compare various areas in a search for the most lucrative, and to access crop prediction models. Crop production in Ukraine has been growing in the last decade, whereas the expected land price is substantially lower than in other European countries.

‘Top-notch farmland data in any country’

Max Polyakov, managing partner of Noosphere Ventures, owner of EOS DA: “We are setting a precedent for how satellite monitoring can help markets, businesses and governments. Lots of information, important for growers, investors, and decision-makers in agriculture, can be obtained from space. EOS Crop Monitoring can provide top-notch farmland data in any country, enabling better land and farm management practices and solutions for global food and environment challenges”.

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