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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOIL AND NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINED PRODUCTIVITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Location: Soil Plant Nutrient Research (SPNR)

Title: Advances in Precision Conservation

Authors
item DELGADO, JORGE
item Berry, Joseph - U OF DENVER, DENVER, CO

Submitted to: Advances in Agronomy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 25, 2008
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
Citation: Delgado, J.A., Berry, J. 2008. Advances in precision conservation. Advances in Agronomy 98: 1-44.

Interpretive Summary: There are multiple examples of advances in Precision Conservation published during the last four years showing how new spatial technologies and the integration of GPS, GIS, RS, and models can be applied to improve management decisions that contribute to Precision Conservation of soil and water. Precision Conservation can more precisely identify where to locate riparian buffers, sediment ponds, nutrient management farms and other ecological engineering practices to most effectively reduce environmental impacts from hot spots across the watershed. These technologies can be used to simultaneously consider variable hydrology and temporal flows to identify the best locations for the implementation of conservation practices at the watershed and. sub-watershed levels. These technologies can also be used to design better buffers to manage flows at field borders, to identify the best locations for phosphorous recovery devices, and to locate potential denitrification trap sites. These technologies can contribute to better management of variable surface and underground flows across grass waterways, buffers, riparian buffers, ditches, wetlands, and watersheds. New advances even show that there is potential to integrate management of rangeland animal behavior with management practices that account for spatial and temporal variability to enhance Precision Conservation of soil and water resources. Precision Conservation can be used to synchronize best management practices that maximize yields while reducing unnecessary inputs and losses of sediment and other chemicals to the environment. We propose that, as new technological advances continue to emerge, adaptations of Precision Conservation by land owners, managers, farmers, and extension personnel will be widely implemented. Precision Conservation will play a significant role in maximizing and sustaining agricultural yields while contributing to global sustainability in the 21st century.

Technical Abstract: Population growth is expected to increase, and the world population is projected to reach ten billion by 2050, which decreases the per capita arable land. More intensive agricultural production will have to meet the increasing food demands for this increasing population, especially because of an increasing demand for land area to be used for biofuels. These increases in intensive production agriculture will have to be accomplished amidst the expected environmental changes attributed to Global Warming. During the next four decades soil and water conservation scientists will encounter some of their greatest challenges to maintain sustainability of agricultural systems stressed by increasing food and biofuels demands. We propose that Precision Conservation will be needed to support parallel increases in soil and water conservation practices that will contribute to sustainability of these very intensively-managed systems while contributing to a parallel increase in conservation of natural areas. The original definition of Precision Conservation is technologically based, requiring the integration of spatial technologies such as global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing (RS), and geographic information systems (GIS) and the ability to analyze spatial relationships within and among mapped data according to three broad categories: surface modeling, spatial data mining and map analysis. In this paper we are extending the definition as follows: Precision Conservation is technologically based, requiring the integration of one or more spatial technologies such as GPS, RS, and GIS and the ability to analyze spatial relationships within and among mapped data according to three broad categories: surface modeling, spatial data mining, and map analysis. We propose that Precision Conservation will be a key science that will contribute to the sustainability of intensive agricultural systems by helping us to analyze spatial and temporal relationships for a better understanding of agricultural and natural systems. These technologies will help us to connect the flows across the landscape, better enabling us to evaluate how we can implement the best viable management and conservation practices across intensive agricultural systems and natural areas to improve soil and water conservation.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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