A GNN-RNN Approach for Harnessing Geospatial and Temporal Information: Application to Crop Yield Prediction


  • Joshua Fan Cornell University
  • Junwen Bai Cornell University
  • Zhiyun Li Cornell University
  • Ariel Ortiz-Bobea Cornell University
  • Carla P. Gomes Cornell University




AI For Social Impact (AISI Track Papers Only)


Climate change is posing new challenges to crop-related concerns, including food insecurity, supply stability, and economic planning. Accurately predicting crop yields is crucial for addressing these challenges. However, this prediction task is exceptionally complicated since crop yields depend on numerous factors such as weather, land surface, and soil quality, as well as their interactions. In recent years, machine learning models have been successfully applied in this domain. However, these models either restrict their tasks to a relatively small region, or only study over a single or few years, which makes them hard to generalize spatially and temporally. In this paper, we introduce a novel graph-based recurrent neural network for crop yield prediction, to incorporate both geographical and temporal knowledge in the model, and further boost predictive power. Our method is trained, validated, and tested on over 2000 counties from 41 states in the US mainland, covering years from 1981 to 2019. As far as we know, this is the first machine learning method that embeds geographical knowledge in crop yield prediction and predicts crop yields at the county level nationwide. We also laid a solid foundation by comparing our model on a nationwide scale with other well-known baseline methods, including linear models, tree-based models, and deep learning methods. Experiments show that our proposed method consistently outperforms the existing state-of-the-art methods on various metrics, validating the effectiveness of geospatial and temporal information.




How to Cite

Fan, J., Bai, J., Li, Z., Ortiz-Bobea, A., & Gomes, C. P. (2022). A GNN-RNN Approach for Harnessing Geospatial and Temporal Information: Application to Crop Yield Prediction. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 36(11), 11873-11881. https://doi.org/10.1609/aaai.v36i11.21444