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We propose the use of support vector machines (SVMs) for automatic hyperspectral data classification and knowledge discovery. In the first stage of the study, we use SVMs for crop classification and analyze their performance in terms of efficiency and robustness, as compared to extensively used neural and fuzzy methods. Efficiency is assessed by evaluating accuracy and statistical differences in several scenes. Robustness is analyzed in terms of: (1) suitability to working conditions when a feature selection stage is not possible and (2) performance when different levels of Gaussian noise are introduced at their inputs. In the second stage of this work, we analyze the distribution of the support vectors (SVs) and perform sensitivity analysis on the best classifier in order to analyze the significance of the input spectral bands. For classification purposes, six hyperspectral images acquired with the 128-band HyMAP spectrometer during the DAISEX-1999 campaign are used. Six crop classes were labeled for each image. A reduced set of labeled samples is used to train the models, and the entire images are used to assess their performance. Several conclusions are drawn: (1) SVMs yield better outcomes than neural networks regarding accuracy, simplicity, and robustness; (2) training neural and neurofuzzy models is unfeasible when working with high-dimensional input spaces and great amounts of training data; (3) SVMs perform similarly for different training subsets with varying input dimension, which indicates that noisy bands are successfully detected; and (4) a valuable ranking of bands through sensitivity analysis is achieved.