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For the implementation of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Commission requires information on crop production of the current growing season. To acquire this information, the MARS project was started in 1988. The crop monitoring and yield forecasting activity is today allocated in the Food Security Unit of the European Commission's JRC in Ispra (Italy), within the AGRI4CAST/MARS4CAST project. The corresponding ICT infrastructure running in an operational context and being constantly updated and improved is called the MARS Crop Yield Forecasting System MCYFS.
The MCYFS covers several regional windows: Europe, Russia/Kazachstan, China, India, South America, Africa and a global window. The system uses near real-time data like observed weather, weather forecasts and remote sensing data. Static input data consist of soil maps, crop calendar and administrative yield statistics. With these input data crop conditions can be simulated. On regular intervals new yield statistics are added. Together with the weather data, crop simulation results, and remote sensing data, these are used to make crop specific end-of-season yield forecasts. With software tools the data can be accessed, analyzed, and presented. While the operational handling of the MCYFS is executed by external contractors to the European Commission, the MARS4CAST project team is in charge of the agricultural analysis and publication of the JRC MARS Bulletins, the system's quality control as well as further research and development.
The MCYFS consists of an ensemble of methodologies and tools that are grouped into 5 modules.