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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: New Advances and Practices for Precision Conservation

Authors
item Delgado, Jorge
item Berry, Joseph - U OF DENVER, DENVER, CO
item Khosla, Rajiv - CO ST U. FT. COLLINS, CO

Submitted to: International Symposium on Precision Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 8, 2008
Publication Date: July 20, 2008
Citation: Delgado, J.A., Berry, J., Khosla, R. 2008. New Advances and Practices for Precision Conservation. 9th International Symposium on Precision Agriculture. ASA Madison, WI. (CD-ROM).

Interpretive Summary: This paper is a review of papers published during the last few years that describe the various advances in Precision Conservation. These papers show how we can integrate new advances in spatial technologies, such as GPS, GIS, RS, and computer models to help practitioners and conservationists make decisions that contribute to the conservation of soil and water. By integrating spatial and temporal information to guide implementation of best management practices, we can precisely identify appropriate locations for riparian buffers, sediment ponds, and nutrient management farms and can decide how to use ecological engineering practices to identify hot spots and reduce environmental impacts across a watershed. We can use these technologies to assess surface and underground flows, variable hydrology, and variable erosion rates and identify the best locations for the implementation of conservation practices at the watershed and. sub-watershed levels, across a field or at a field border. The next four decades will see a tremendous increase in worldwide needs to maximize agricultural production. These increases in pressure for higher agricultural production will be driven by continued population growth, biofuel production demands, and global warming. We propose that, to maintain the necessary maximum production, a parallel increase in conservation practices must take place to sustain maximum agricultural production. We also propose that Precision Conservation will be an approach to soil and water conservation that will be necessary to synchronize best management practices that maximize yields while reducing unnecessary inputs and losses of sediment and other chemicals to the environment. As new technological advances continue to emerge, adaptations of Precision Conservation techniques by land owners, managers, farmers, and extension personnel will be widely implemented worldwide across all types of agricultural systems.

Technical Abstract: 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 global warming and increasing population growth, with higher food and biofuels demands. It has been reported that intensive agriculture without adequate soil and water conservation practices can potentially reduce soil quality, lowering yields and increasing off-site transport of soil particles, nutrients, and agrochemicals that impact water bodies. Precision Conservation offers an alternative to integrate the use 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 to develop management plans that account for the temporal and spatial variability of flows in the environment. This paper presents several advances in Precision Conservation during the last five years, and the potential applications and uses of these developments for new modified practices that can contribute to Precision Conservation across the landscape. These new technologies and new advances can help connect flows across the landscape, and improve the evaluation and understanding of connections between agricultural and non-agricultural areas to implement the best viable management and conservation practices across the landscape for sustainability of intensive agriculture that simultaneously provides for higher yields and environmental conservation. We propose that, to maintain the necessary maximum production, a parallel increase in conservation practices must take place to sustain maximum agricultural production. We also propose that Precision Conservation will be an approach to soil and water conservation that will be necessary to synchronize best management practices that maximize yields while reducing unnecessary inputs and losses of sediment and other chemicals to the environment.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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