Barriguinha, A., Jardim, B., Castro Neto, M. & Gil, A. (2022) Using NDVI, climate data and machine learning to estimate yield in the Douro wine region.International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 114, 103069. DOI:10.1016/j.jag.2022.103069 (IF2021 7,672; Q1 Remote Sensing)
Estimating vineyard yield in advance is essential for planning and regulatory purposes at the regional level, with growing importance in a long-term scenario of perceived climate change. With few tools available, the current study aimed to develop a yield estimation model based on remote sensing and climate data with a machine-learning approach. Using a satellite-based time-series of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) calculated from Sentinel 2 images and climate data acquired by local automatic weather stations, a system for yield prediction based on a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) neural network was implemented. The study was conducted in the Douro Demarcated Region in Portugal over the period 2016–2021 using yield data from 169 administrative areas that cover 250,000 ha, in which 43,000 ha of the vineyard are in production. The optimal combination of input features, with an Mean Absolute Error (MAE) of 672.55 kg/ha and an Mean Squared Error (MSE) of 81.30 kg/ha, included the NDVI, Temperature, Relative Humidity, Precipitation, and Wind Intensity. The model was tested for each year, using it as the test set, while all other years were used as input to train the model. Two different moments in time, corresponding to FLO (flowering) and VER (veraison), were considered to estimate in advance wine grape yield. The best prediction was made for 2020 at VER, with the model overestimating the yield per hectare by 8 %, with the average absolute error for the entire period being 17 %. The results show that with this approach, it is possible to estimate wine grape yield accurately in advance at different scales.