Assessing changes in rice cropping systems is essential for ensuring food security, greenhouse gas emissions, and sustainable water management. However, due to the insufficient availability of images with moderate to high spatial resolution, caused by frequent cloud cover and coarse temporal resolution, high-resolution maps of rice cropping systems at a large scale are relatively limited, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. This study combined the difference of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (dNDVI) method and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) threshold method to monitor changes in rice cropping systems of Southern China using Landsat images, based on the phenological differences between different rice cropping systems. From 1990–2015, the sown area of double cropping rice (DCR) in Southern China decreased by 61054.5 km2, the sown area of single cropping rice (SCR) increased by 20,110.7 km2, the index of multiple cropping decreased from 148.3% to 129.3%, and the proportion of DCR decreased by 20%. The rice cropping systems in Southern China showed a “double rice shrinking and single rice expanding” change pattern from north to south, and the most dramatic changes occurred in the Middle-Lower Yangtze Plain. This study provided an efficient strategy that can be applied to moderate to high resolution images with deficient data availability, and the resulting maps can be used as data support to adjust agricultural structures, formulate food security strategies, and compile a greenhouse gas emission inventory.
Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying