Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Dynamics (PhD)

Degree Level



Environmental Dynamics


Nalley, Lawton Lanier

Committee Member

Brye, Kristofer R.

Second Committee Member

Shew, Aaron M.

Third Committee Member

Popp, Michael P.

Fourth Committee Member

Green, V. Steven


Cropping Pattern, Google Earth Engine, Mississippi Alluvial Plain (MAP), Random Forest, Remote sensing, Winter Cover Crop


This dissertation explores the application of remote sensing technologies in conservation agriculture, specifically focusing on identifying and mapping winter cover crops and assessing voluntary cover crop adoption and cropping patterns in the Arkansas portion of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain (MAP). In the first chapter, a systematic review using the PRISMA methodology examines the last 30 years of thematic research, development, and trends in remote sensing applied to conservation agriculture from a global perspective. The review uncovers a growing interest in remote sensing-based research in conservation agriculture and emphasizes the necessity for further studies dedicated to conservation practices. Among the 68 articles examined, 94% of studies utilized a pixel-based classification method, while only 6% employed an object-based approach. The analysis also revealed a thematic shift over time, with tillage practices being extensively studied before 2005, followed by a focus on crop residue from 2004 to 2012. From 2012 to 2020, there was a renewed emphasis on cover crops research. These findings highlight the evolving research landscape and provide insights into the trends within remote sensing-based conservation agriculture studies. The second chapter presents a methodological framework for identifying and mapping winter cover crops. The framework utilizes the Google Earth Engine (GEE) and a Random Forest (RF) classifier with time series data from Landsat 8 satellite. Results demonstrate a high classification accuracy (97.7%) and a significant increase (34%) in model-predicted cover crop adoption over the study period between 2013 and 2019. Additionally, the study showcases the use of multi-year datasets to efficiently map the growing season's length and cover crops' phenological characteristics. The third chapter assesses the voluntary adoption of winter cover crops and cropping patterns in the MAP region. Remote sensing technologies, USDA-NRCS government cover crop data sources, and the USDA Cropland Data Layer (CDL) are employed to identify cover crop locations, analyze county-wide voluntary adoption, and cropping rotations. The result showed a 5.33% increase in the overall voluntary adoption of cover crops in the study region between 2013 and 2019. The findings also indicate a growing trend in cover crop adoption, with soybean-cover crop rotations being prominent. This dissertation enhances our understanding of the role of remote sensing in conservation agriculture with a particular focus on winter cover crops. These insights are valuable for policymakers, stakeholders, and researchers seeking to promote sustainable agricultural practices and increased cover crop adoption. The study also underscores the significance of integrating remote sensing technologies into agricultural decision-making processes and highlights the importance of collaboration among policymakers, researchers, and producers. By leveraging the capabilities of remote sensing, it will enhance conservation agriculture contribution to long-term environmental sustainability and agricultural resilience. Keywords: Remote sensing technologies, Conservation agriculture, Winter cover crops, Voluntary adoption, Cropping patterns, Sustainable agricultural practices