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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Remote Sensing for Grassland Management in the Arid Southwest 1633

Authors
item Marsett, R. - RANGES
item Qi, J. - MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
item Heilman, Philip
item Biedenbender, S. - US FOREST SERVICE
item Watson, M. - AZ METEOROLOGICAL NETWORK
item Amer, S. - USGS
item Weltz, Mark
item Goodrich, David
item Marsett, R. - VERIDIAN

Submitted to: Rangeland Ecology and Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 21, 2006
Publication Date: September 1, 2006
Citation: Marsett, R.C., Qi, J., Heilman, P., Biedenbender, S.H., Watson, M.C., Amer, S., Weltz, M.A., Goodrich, D.C., Marsett, R. 2006. Remote sensing for grassland management in the arid southwest. Rangeland Ecology and Management 59(5): 530-540.

Interpretive Summary: The RANGES (Rangeland Analysis Utilizing Geospatial Information Science) project used satellite imagery to produce quantitative estimates of grass cover, height and standing biomass. Previous approaches worked primarily on green vegetation, so a new vegetation index was developed that is sensitive to senescent vegetation as well. Now estimates can be made throughout the year, not just during the rainy season when cloud cover can cause problems for acquiring images. Another algorithm was developed to estimate grass height, and by combining the estimate of cover and height, biomass can be estimated. Fieldwork is needed to develop parameters used to estimate vegetation characteristics for each image. Consequently, to pay for the field data collection and data processing, the spatially distributed estimates of cover, height, and biomass would probably have to be provided commercially. The final product complements field data collection by providing objective assessments of vegetation characteristics, allows rangeland managers to focus on problem areas, and documents vegetation characteristics over time and space.

Technical Abstract: Managers of public and private rangelands need objective estimates of vegetation characteristics. Remote sensing has the potential to provide near real-time vegetation information for areas too large to be regularly monitored by ground-based methods. The purpose of the RANGES (Rangeland Analysis Utilizing Geospatial Information Science) project is to use satellite imagery to produce quantitative estimates of standing biomass for rangeland managers. A new vegetation index was developed that is sensitive to senescent, as well as green, vegetation. This index can then be used to estimate canopy cover throughout the year. Another algorithm was developed to estimate grass height, and by combining the estimate of cover and height, biomass can be estimated. Validation showed a good fit between cover, height, and biomass as estimated from Landsat data and ground measurements, although these algorithms are limited to grasslands. Fieldwork is needed to develop the empirical parameters used to estimate vegetation characteristics for each image. The final product complements field data collection by providing objective assessments of vegetation characteristics, allows rangeland managers to focus on problem areas, and documents vegetation characteristics over time and space.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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