7.3.1 MERA '92 (MARS and Environmental Related Applications) Project (1994-96)
In the European Union's MARS project new methods were developed, tested since 1988 for obtaining harmonized agricultural information of the various member states with the application of remote sensing. In six PHARE countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria and Hungary), new methods of two agricultural related activities of MARS Project complemented with two environmental topics were introduced in the frame of the MERA'92 project. In each country an appointed National Focal Point (NFP) was responsible for implementing the project. In Hungary the National Focal Point - based on its priority related projects - was the FÖMI (FÖMI Remote Sensing Centre, FÖMI RSC) by the appointment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hungary. The Space Application Unit of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra was responsible for the project coordination providing methodological and technical support and the necessary software and hardware facilities to the NFPs. The MERA'92 project was partly funded by the PHARE Regional Environment Programme of the European Commission. National contribution to the budget from the participating countries was also important.

The MERA '92 project was initiated in 1992 covering four main activities. The two agricultural related activities are frame sampling ground survey based regional crop inventory and agrometeorological modelling. These provided crop acreage statistics and yield forecast for the main crops of interest on pilot areas at county and regional level. In Hungary the two agricultural subprojects were implemented by FÖMI RSC. The two environment related topics, the forest ecosystems and land degradation mapping actions yielded national database and digital GIS on forest ecosystems and land degradation as well as detailed land use maps on selected sample areas using Landsat TM images. Two subcontractors, the University of Forestry and Wood Sciences, Sopron and the Research Institute for Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) implemented the forest ecosystem and land degradation mapping activities, in contribution with FÖMI RSC that provided technical support in satellite image analysis tasks.

The applied method and obtained results of the main activities in Hungary
Regional Crop Inventory
The MARS area frame sampling method for crop inventory and crop area estimation was validated in a very intensive agricultural subregion (4 counties, 22.000 km2) of Hungary. The applied methodology included the stratification of the target area using high resolution Landsat TM images, planning and performing an area frame sampling ground survey and digital ground data processing. The crop area estimation based exclusively on the ground truth data was applied by the direct expansion method and yielded appropriate results for the area estimation of the main crops at county and region level. Beyond the MERA'92 project specification, synchronous satellite image analysis and regression estimation was also accomplished, that showed great improvement in the accuracy of area estimation for the main crops.
Agrometeorological Modelling
This subproject served as a basis for establishing crop yield forecasting activities using exclusively meteorological, soil and other not remote sensing type data. This involved the collection, setting up and adjustment of national agrometeorological data base and the conduction of agrometeorological model (CGMS) operation at regional level. In addition to this, the test of WOFOST crop growth simulation model in Hungarian conditions have been performed. The results were also analyzed and interpreted by comparison with the NOAA AVHRR data.
Forest Ecosystems Mapping
The regionalizon of the country into forest ecosystem regions (1:500.000), forest strata delineation and GIS construction were implemented on the basis of the collected geophysical and forest management parameters. The detailed classification of three representative test areas into land cover classes including different forest types were completed at 1:100.000 scale using Landsat TM satellite images.
Land Degradation Mapping
The identification and delineation of the country's major land degradation risk regions (areas of potential land degradation risk) has been completed at regional scale (1:500.000) by GIS analysis of the compiled digital data base of various soil maps and data. Digital soil salinization and soil erosion risk maps at 1:100.000 were also obtained on two representative test areas by GIS analysis. Detailed land use map incorporating the classification of the soil salinization into salinity classes were produced using multitemporal Landsat TM images for a test area.

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