Agricultural registers for the assessment of landscape changes: Options and challenges for the application of IACS and LPIS data

Authors and Affiliations: 

Gregor Levin

Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Roskilde

Corresponding author: 
Gregor Levin

In the early 1990ies the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) was launched with the aim to support administration and payments of agricultural subsidies (EEC, 1992). IACS is based on farmers’ individual registrations and contains farm level (e.g. animal husbandry and manure accountings) and parcel specific (e.g. crop type and management) information. The IACS database is linked with the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), enabling identification of spatial location of parcel specific land use data (Sagris and Dewos, 2009). IACS and LPIS are mandatory for all EU Member States and provide a potentially rich source of information for landscape studies at a very high spatial resolution. With increased access to digital IACS and LPIS data, recent years have seen several applications of these data in landscape and land use studies. Furthermore, IACS and LPIS data have now been available for up to 20 years, providing the possibility for analysis of landscape and land use change over a quite long time span. Applications of IACS and LPIS data include assessments of High Nature Value (HNF) farmland (Lomba et al., 2017), conversion and abandonment of permanent grassland (Nitch et al., 2012) and analyses of grassland cropland dynamics (Zimmermann et al., 2016). However, a major obstacle to the application of IACS and LPIS data in landscape land use studies is the fact that the primary aim of these registers is the administration and control of agricultural subsidies and not research. Consequently, IACS and LPIS data are highly biased by inaccuracies in farmers’ registrations and by changes in policies and subsidy schemes, affecting farmers’ registrations. In order to prevent erroneous results and conclusions, applications of these data need to consider eventual biases and develop methods to limit these.
This presentation provides a general introduction to the content, data construction and availability of IACS and LPIS data. As Danish IACS and LPIS data have been available since 1998, examples of applications of these data in Denmark will be presented. These comprise analyses of conflicts and synergies between agricultural land use and habitat protection (Levin, 2013), integration of LPIS data in land use and land use change mapping (Jepsen and Levin, 2013; Levin et al., 2014), a study of relationships between decline of starlings and changes in the intensity of cattle grazing (Heldbjerg et al., 2016) and a study of relationships between parcelization of agricultural land use and occurrence of shrubs (Levin and Nainggolan, 2016). Focus will be on how IACS and LPIS data were processed and how biases due to inaccuracies in farmers’ registrations and changes in policies and subsidy schemes were reduced.


EEC, 1992. Council Regulation (EEC) No 3508/92 of 27 November 1992 establishing an integrated administration and control system for certain community aid schemes. p. 5.
Heldbjerg, H., Fox, A., Levin, G. & Nyegaard, T., 2016. The decline of the Starling Sturnus vulgaris in Denmark is related to changes in the grassland extent and the intensity of cattle grazing. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 230, 24-31.
Jepsen, M. R., Levin, G., 2013. Semantically based reclassification of Danish land-use and land-cover information. International Journal of Geographical Information Science. 27, 2375-2390.
Levin, G., 2013. Applying parcel-specific land-use data for improved monitoring of semi-natural grassland in Denmark. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185, 2615-2625.
Levin, G., Blemmer, M., Gyldenkærne, S., Johannsen, V.K., Caspersen, O.H., Petersen, H.S., Nyed, P.K., Becker, T., Bruun, H.G., Fuglsang, M., Münier, B., Bastrup-Birk, A. & NordLarsen, T., 2014. Estimating land use/land cover changes in Denmark from 1990 – 2012. Technical documentation for the assessment of land use/land cover changes for estimation of carbon dioxide fixation in soil. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 34 pp. Technical Report from DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy No. 38
Levin, G., Nainggolan, D., 2016. The significance of spatial fragmentation of land ownership for occurrence of scrubs on semi-natural grasslands. Landscape Ecology, 31, 2031-2044.
Lomba, A., Strohbach, M., Jerrentrup, S., Dauber, J., Klimek, S. McCracken, D., 2017. Making the best of both worlds: Can high-resolution agricultural administrative data support the assessment of High Nature Value farmlands across Europe? Ecol. Ind., 72, 228-130.
Nitsch, H., Osterburg, B., Roggendorf, W., Laggner, B., 2012. Cross compliance and the protection of grassland—Illustrative analyses of land use transitions between permanent grassland and arable land in German regions. Land Use Policy 29, 440–448.
Sagris, V., Devos, W., 2009. Core conceptual model for Land Parcel Identification System (LCM), GeoCAP version 1.1. JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. 53 pp.
Zimmermann, J., González, A., Jones, M.B., O’Brien, P., Stout, J.C., Green, S., 2016. Assessing land-use history for reporting on cropland dynamics—A comparison between the Land-Parcel Identification System and traditional inter-annual approaches. Land Use Policy 52, 30-40.

Oral or poster: 
Oral presentation
Abstract order: