Rural agricultural landscapes are being fundamentally transformed as people change how they manage their land in response to the emergence of new policies and incentives designed to address the climate crisis, environmental sustainability, biodiversity loss and food security. Data created using remote and near-surface sensing technologies play an important role in this transformation.

Farmers, land managers and technical specialists who support them use sensing data to plan how to manage the land more sustainably and to put those plans into action. The ipaast project aimed to make the collection, analysis and interpretation of remote and near surface sensing data a point of connection and collaboration between people working on different parts of land management. We focused on building connections between people using these data to study agricultural land’s heritage and people farming it today.

The project’s interdisciplinary team collaborated to build a network of stakeholders. We led workshops, ran surveys, and interviewed practitioners to try to understand the needs of different groups and come up with ways to align these needs that would motivate people to work together. To enable collaborative action, we developed interoperable data descriptions and workflows for remote and near-surface sensing data used by archaeologists and precision-agriculturalists, and to produce case studies that demonstrated how they work.

We’re grateful to everyone who contributed to the project. Designing truly compatible data standards and analytical routines required diving deep into our implicit assumptions and reflecting critically on how our mental models of everything to do with agricultural land impact on the design of our data structures and workflows. The project’s data and workflow design work helped us to explore where our ideas connected and and differed. This process pushed us to have meaningful conversations about the complex intersecting interests and priorities of people working in different ways to navigate changes to agriculture, food systems, rural land, and communities. We hope the process helped to build momentum toward a shared equitable and sustainable approach to our changing agricultural landscapes.

This project is led by a team from the Universities of Glasgow, Ghent, Siena, Florence and Spain’s Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), and the Landscape Research Centre. 

Support and Funding

This project is generously supported by the British Academy through their Knowledge Frontiers Programme.