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Agricultural article

The quest to bring new land under cultivation has been the cornerstone of Egyptian agricultural policy since the 1950s. At the same time, overpopulation in the Nile delta and valley, and the gradual shifting of economy from an agricultural to an industrial base together with different forms of desertification processes have led to the loss of highly fertile agricultural land. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address and analyse these changes in order to serve the development plans of the country. In this paper a maximum likelihood supervised classification was applied to subsets of the Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM +) images acquired on 26 March 1989 and 19 March 2001, respectively, to monitor agricultural land changes in the Eastern Nile Delta of Egypt between the two dates. A supervised classification was carried out with the six reflective bands for the two images individually and ground truth data were used to assess the accuracy of the classification. Generally, it was found that urban areas increased by 34%, which was considered to be the highest land cover change in the study area. This increase in urban areas took place on desert and highly productive agriculture land in the Nile delta as a result of overpopulation and economic growth. In spite of the continuous efforts to reclaim the desert and increase cultivated land, agricultural land has been decreased by about 2%. At the same time, more concern is required to prevent the urban encroachment at the expense of productive agricultural land. The results are analysed and discussed.