Computer automation of land evaluation procedures
This study was concerned with the computer automation of land evaluation. This is a broad subject with many issues to be resolved, so the study concentrated on three key problems: knowledge based programming; the integration of spatial information from remote sensing and other sources; and the inclusion of socio-economic information into the land evaluation analysis. Land evaluation and land use planning were considered in the context of overseas projects in the developing world. Knowledge based systems were found to provide significant advantages over conventional programming techniques for some aspects of the land evaluation process. Declarative languages, in particular Prolog, were ideally suited to integration of social information which changes with every situation. Rule-based expert system shells were also found to be suitable for this role, including knowledge acquisition at the interview stage. All the expert system shells examined suffered from very limited constraints to problem size, but new products now overcome this. Inductive expert system shells were useful as a guide to knowledge gaps and possible relationships, but the number of examples required was unrealistic for typical land use planning situations. The accuracy of classified satellite imagery was significantly enhanced by integrating spatial information on soil distribution for Thailand data. Estimates of the rice producing area were substantially improved (30% change in area) by the addition of soil information. Image processing work on Mozambique showed that satellite remote sensing was a useful tool in stratifying vegetation cover at provincial level to identify key development areas, but its full utility could not be realised on typical planning projects, without treatment as part of a complete spatial information system.