Pub. online:31 Mar 2023Type:Computing In Data ScienceOpen Access
Journal:Journal of Data Science
Volume 21, Issue 2 (2023): Special Issue: Symposium Data Science and Statistics 2022, pp. 333–353
High-Order Markov Chains (HOMC) are conventional models, based on transition probabilities, that are used by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to study crop-rotation patterns over time. However, HOMCs routinely suffer from sparsity and identifiability issues because the categorical data are represented as indicator (or dummy) variables. In fact, the dimension of the parametric space increases exponentially with the order of HOMCs required for analysis. While parsimonious representations reduce the number of parameters, as has been shown in the literature, they often result in less accurate predictions. Most parsimonious models are trained on big data structures, which can be compressed and efficiently processed using alternative algorithms. Consequently, a thorough evaluation and comparison of the prediction results obtain using a new HOMC algorithm and different types of Deep Neural Networks (DNN) across a range of agricultural conditions is warranted to determine which model is most appropriate for operational crop specific land cover prediction of United States (US) agriculture. In this paper, six neural network models are applied to crop rotation data between 2011 and 2021 from six agriculturally intensive counties, which reflect the range of major crops grown and a variety of crop rotation patterns in the Midwest and southern US. The six counties include: Renville, North Dakota; Perkins, Nebraska; Hale, Texas; Livingston, Illinois; McLean, Illinois; and Shelby, Ohio. Results show the DNN models achieve higher overall prediction accuracy for all counties in 2021. The proposed DNN models allow for the ingestion of long time series data, and robustly achieve higher accuracy values than a new HOMC algorithm considered for predicting crop specific land cover in the US.