Deep Transfer Learning for Crop Yield Prediction with Remote Sensing Data

Accurate prediction of crop yields in developing countries in advance of harvest time is central to preventing famine, improving food security, and sustainable development of agriculture. Existing techniques are expensive and difficult to scale as they require locally collected survey data. Approaches utilizing remotely sensed data, such as satellite imagery, potentially provide a cheap, equally effective alternative. Our work shows promising results in predicting soybean crop yields in Argentina using deep learning techniques. We also achieve satisfactory results with a transfer learning approach to predict Brazil soybean harvests with a smaller amount of data. The motivation for transfer learning is that the success of deep learning models is largely dependent on abundant ground truth training data. Successful crop yield prediction with deep learning in regions with little training data relies on the ability to fine-tune pre-trained models.