Project Background

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union aims at improving the European agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner while ensuring a decent standard of living of farmers within the EU. With an annual budget of roughly €59 billion, the CAP strengthens the competitiveness and sustainability of agriculture in Europe by a range of measures including direct payments, market measures and rural development. The largest part of the CAP budget is managed and controlled through its Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) aiming to safeguard the CAP financials and supporting the farmers to submit their declarations. The IACS is implemented at national level through Paying Agencies of each EU member state.

The current legal framework of the CAP from 2013 will be reformed by 2020 in order to modernize and simplify the CAP. In this upcoming CAP reform satellite Earth Observation (EO) is seen to take an increasing role for improving the IACS and making it more cost efficient.

Sentinels for Common Agricultural Policy - Sen4CAP

The Sentinels for Common Agricultural Policy - Sen4CAP project aims at providing to the European and national stakeholders of the CAP validated algorithms, products, workflows and best practices for agriculture monitoring relevant for the management of the CAP. The project will pay particular attention to provide evidence how Sentinel derived information can support the modernization and simplification of the CAP in the post 2020 timeframe.

The overall approach proposed for the Sen4CAP project is completely user-oriented to ensure responding very concrete user needs and requirements. A Sen4CAP user group includes Paying Agencies (PA) from 6 selected Pilot Countries, as well as a set of Champion Users belonging to the Conference of Directors of EU PAs, the Panta Rhei Platform and the Copernicus Agriculture Expert Group. Furthermore, the Steering Committee composed of representatives of the DG-Agri, DG-JRC and DG-Grow and chaired by ESA will provide guidance throughout the course of the project.

The project started in July 2017 and will last 30 months, organized in two distinct phases. The first phase of 14 months aims at delivering a Proof of Concept. It will include varying activities starting with the user requirements consolidation and the acquisition and pre-processing of all necessary EO data (both Sentinels 1 & 2) and of IACS data coming from national Paying Agencies (LPIS, declarations, on-the-spot controls, etc.). Fast-track prototype products will then be generated by spring 2018 with the objective of providing early evidence to the Steering group of the benefits of the Sentinels for improving the CAP management in preparation of the CAP 2020 reform. These prototype products will be demonstrated through fast-track use cases and assessed during a Pilot Review. In parallel, the open-source processing system will be developed and validated.

During the second phase (16 months), the full value of the developed EO products and processing system will be assessed through a national-scale demonstration during the years 2018 and 2019. This demonstration will be carried out in the operational environment of the engaged Paying Agencies. This phase will also include the necessary training and capacity building activities for the transfer of the developed EO products and services to the Paying Agencies.


The SEN4CAP main objectives are:

  • identify and specify EO products and services suitable to increase the efficiency, traceability as well as reducing the costs of the IACS,
  • develop Algorithm Theoretical Basis Documents along with open source code for agricultural EO products based on Sentinel-1 & -2 responding to the user requirements,
  • demonstrate and validate the developed agricultural EO products up to national scale,
  • provide evidence for the utility of Sentinel products within IACS procedures at EU and national level for a range of national and regional Paying Agencies representative for the heterogeneous agricultural practices, landscape and climate within the EU, as well as to identify the associated limits and conditions of applications,
  • prepare and facilitate the transfer of developed EO products and services to the PAs including capacity building and demonstrating cloud computing capabilities.