One of the largest and most challenging geospatial projects in recent times has been successfully completed within tight deadlines by a consortium led by Fugro. When finished the project had created a 780,000 km² nationwide orthophoto and digital terrain model for the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture.
The Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock initiated the project in 2014 with support from the EU. The goal was to create a Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) for Turkey similar to the European LPIS systems. The LPIS, a tool used to identify and register agricultural land, is a critical component of Turkey’s Integrated Administration Control System (IACS). The IACS will eventually facilitate and manage direct payment schemes to farmers, the application of the government’s Rural Development Plan, and the protection of food safety and the environment.
Creating the seamless orthophoto coverage was the first step in this process. Under a stringent tender process, a consortium led by Fugro, with Aerodata International Surveys (Belgium) and Mescioglu Engineering & Consulting (Turkey) as partners, was awarded the contract in competition with 11 other international consortiums.
Work started in October 2014 with Fugro forming a project management team in Ankara. A local production centre with more than 60 image processing specialists was also established as the secure nature of the imagery meant that the aerial photographs weren’t permitted to leave the country.
Next came the challenge of acquiring the imagery - covering 780,000 km² within a two-year time period. Many factors had to be efficiently coordinated and managed such as obtaining flight permits from the Turkish Military, measuring over 2,000 ground control points by land survey crews and flying during optimal sunny weather windows to ensure perfect aerial imagery. Turkey’s diverse regions have different climates, with the weather system on the coasts contrasting with that prevailing in the interior and rainfall lower in the East.
It has been a very challenging project and we have enjoyed working very closely with the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and our Consortium partners in order to reach this successful result.
95% of the imagery was captured using fixed wing aircraft fitted with high resolution digital cameras with up to seven consortium aircraft flying at peak periods. The remaining area - approximately 40,000 km² - was impossible to fly either due to safety issues close to the Syrian and Iraqi borders or due to bad weather conditions so satellite imagery was acquired to cover these regions.
Once obtained, the aerial images were quality controlled and securely transferred to the production centre in Ankara where the image processing, aerial triangulation and orthophoto production tasks were completed. With more than 232,000 digital images to handle the IT management and data storage systems were essential to a successful implementation. A complex IT infrastructure was put in place with 900 terabytes of storage capacity together with secure data handling processes and data back-up systems.
For the areas covered by satellite imagery, the remote sensing production was carried out by Fugro´s production centres in Beirut and China. The final stage of the production process was to integrate the satellite and aerial imagery orthophotos into seamless orthophotos covering the complete surface of Turkey. In addition, a total update of the nationwide digital terrain model for Turkey was produced based on the acquired data.
The project was completed within the tight two year time frame and will provide a strong foundation for future agricultural topographic mapping in Turkey.
Over 50% of the land in Turkey is classified as agricultural. The country is a major producer of arable crops, fruit and vegetables and is responsible for 80% of the world’s hazelnut exports.
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