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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Enhancing Food Security of Underserved Populations in the Northeast Through Sustainable Regional Food Systems

Location: Crop Systems & Global Change

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Process level crop models will be linked with available spatially linked databases for soils, land use, and climate data in order to establish production capacity for the Northeast U.S. The production capacity sensitivity to climate change and land-use scenarios will also be evaluated.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The overall approach is to address production, delivery, and consumption aspects related to improving regional food production systems. This portion of the research project focuses on the potential production aspects. The biophysical capacity of the region to produce food can be empirically determined as a function of soil suitability, land use, climate characteristics, crop yield and resource requirements. Spatially linked databases for soils availability, land use patterns, and climate will be assembled using geographic information systems on a county-by-county level throughout the Northeast. The research will link this database with process level ARS crop models (including potato, corn and/or wheat) that simulate yield and resource requirements in response to biophysical constraints. The productivity estimates will be overlaid onto a geographic map of the region. The resulting database and modeling tools will be used to assess future production capacity, based on the changes in specific factors or drivers which can impact production, distribution/processing, and consumption objectives in the overall proposal. Thus, a component of the research will also evaluate effects of climate change scenarios and land-use changes on spatial productivity estimates.


3.Progress Report:

Site-specific (about 56 meter resolution or higher) information regarding physical soil properties, historical climate, agricultural land use, historical yield, and management data was obtained from multiple sources and stored in linked geospatial databases. The data comprises 13 states encompassing New England and parts of the Mid-Atlantic regions (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia). A tool called GAMCAF (Geospatial Agricultural Management and Crop Assessment Framework) was developed that uses automated procedures linking the data to USDA-ARS explanatory crop models for corn (MAIZSIM) and potato (SPUDSIM). The following tasks were conducted with GAMCAF: (1) A study with the potato model over the entire 13-state region indicated the potential for increasing yield on existing agricultural land via changes in management practice including irrigation and planting date. (2) The same study identified minimum and maximum air temperatures as the major biophysical constraints to potato production across this region, as opposed to solar radiation and water availability, and (3) Initial studies of climate change impact suggested a collective potential decrease of 30% in yield. However, the same study suggests much of this negative impact could be alleviated via increased irrigation or rain-fall.


Last Modified: 10/19/2014
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