Precision Conservation is a blog with the intent to discover, uncover, and promote new technologies in targeting, planning, and applying soil and water conservation at both field and watershed-level scales. Join us in a weekly discussion of how and why both private and public sector conservationists can and should aim to apply conservation practices in the right place, at the right time, and at the right scale.
As agronomists, and as conservationists, we generally acknowledge that good soil conservation supports higher yield. We have been looking for a definitive answer on whether soil erosion causes yield drag, but the relationship is complicated. With the ability to accurately calculate soil loss in 9x9 meter grids, Agren is working with agronomists to determine “if and when” soil erosion is causing a yield reduction. We started by generating 9x9 meter grid erosion maps for five fields having five different operators in Western Iowa. All fields had … [Read more...]
I asked the question in my last post, “What good is Precision Conservation if it doesn’t help us apply conservation better and faster?”One of the major limiting factors in getting more structural practices on the land is the short construction season. What conservation field office staffer or contractor wouldn’t love to get twice as many structures built in the same amount of time?I do believe that fully automated 3D machine control will be one of the game changers that conservationists have been looking for; that is, if private businesses and … [Read more...]
What good is Precision Conservation if it doesn’t help us apply conservation better and faster? We should expect that a part of Precision Conservation should simplify and automate the routine and the mundane, so the professional conservationists can engage in meaningful conservation planning.My new favorite Precision Conservation topic is fully automated 3D machine control. This will be one of the game changers we have been looking for, if private businesses and government entities can work together.Recently, I worked with Ryan Murguia of … [Read more...]
I recall hearing a business maxim some years ago: “What gets measured gets done.” In other words, if there is no standard by which to measure something, it becomes a low priority. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with soil erosion.For years, resource professionals have had the RUSLE2 soil erosion model to predict the amount of sheet and rill erosion that occurs on a farm. Sheet and rill erosion is caused by a shallow sheet of rainwater that runs across the land. This picks up and transports soil particles already detached by a raindrop … [Read more...]
One of the most important data layers in Precision Conservation is the elevation layer, or topographic layer. But, there is one big question that needs to be answered. What is the best data source for Precision Conservation; LiDAR or RTK? The world of elevation data is changing so quickly it is hard to keep up. But even with all of the options the two most common types of elevation data, for conservation planning, are airborne LiDAR and RTK. Given that, which should we choose?On one hand, we have airborne LiDAR data that is collected on a … [Read more...]
"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert EinsteinIn 2003, Berry et al. defined precision conservation as "a set of spatial technologies and procedures linked to mapped variables, which is used to implement conservation management practices that take into account spatial and temporal variability across natural and agricultural systems.” After reading this I thought to myself, wow, precision agriculture seems pretty complicated.Not that I disagree with Berry’s definition, but I think a more useful definition for … [Read more...]