Czech Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania and Spanish region Castilla y Leon have been selected as the pilot countries by the Steering Committee and ESA, in discussion with the Consortium. The main criteria for the selection was having the heterogeneous agricultural practices (e.g. field sizes, crops), landscape and climate presented within the EU.
Also, the following criteria was followed:
- LPIS reference parcel type (trying to cover all major types to address variety in EU member states),
- public availability of LPIS (and other) data, reducing the fraction of obtaining data for demo cases,
- agriculture measures in place,
- interest of the country to try new approaches,
- maturity of their existing solutions and processes, knowing that new member states face different problems than old ones,
- countries that have already experienced Sentinel data in their workflows,
- size of the country, trying to address both small and large member states,
- previous and ongoing experience of team partners with the national Paying Agencies; having direct communication with the Paying Agency staff and possibly even direct insight in their data makes it possible to advance faster with prototyping and demo cases.
The selected countries participated in the activity of “User Requirement Consolidation”, which aimed at better understanding the preliminary requirements collected by ESA and the Steering Committee before the project and identifying new ones, anticipating the CAP reform. The result of this activity was also a selection of the test sites within the pilot countries for the algorithm development, testing and validating of EO product prototypes.
The definition of the test sites took into account the need to capture the diversity of EU agricultural practices and of implementation models. In addition, a key point was to demonstrate consistent product generation for areas that are covered by multiple scenes, frames and orbits of Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Landsat 8. The availability of in-situ data or other very high-resolution data also needed to be considered and the relevance in terms of monitoring. Each test site should ideally allow testing different use cases.