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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Precision Conservation in North America.

Authors
item Delgado, Jorge
item Cox, Craig - EX VP/ SWCS
item Pierce, F - WASH STATE UNIV
item Dosskey, M - USFS, LINCOLN, NE

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 12, 2005
Publication Date: November 7, 2005
Citation: Delgado, J.A., Cox, C., Pierce, F.J., Dosskey, M. 2005. Precision conservation in North America. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society. 60:340-341.

Interpretive Summary: The Berry et al. (2003) publication generated enough interest that the Soil Science Society of America, Canadian Soil Science Society, Mexican Soil Science Society and the Division of Soil Water and Management and Conservation organized and held a joint symposium titled “Precision Conservation in North America” at the November 1-4, 2004 annual meeting of the Agronomy Society of America in Seattle, Washington. Sixteen presentations from that symposium are published in this Special Issue. Together, they demonstrate a wide range of specific conservation issues that precision conservation can address as well as a variety of methods and approaches that can be employed. Founded on these successes, the purpose of this Special Issue is to spur further development and adoption of these promising new technologies and promote the dual benefits of sustainable agricultural production and environmental health. Taken together, these papers illustrate that the concept of precision conservation can be used at the field scale in irrigated and non irrigated systems to: 1- increase nutrient use efficiencies; 2- reduce trace gas emissions; 3- increase carbon sequestration; and 4- reduce soil erosion and off site transport across the watershed. Precision conservation may enable us to increase soil and water conservation while maintaining maximum yields. It was also suggested that we can use models to evaluate site specific precision conservation practices spatially across the field and their potential to increase carbon sequestration and to reduce NO3-N leaching. We could also use modeling approaches to evaluate the effects of Best Management Practices across watersheds to precisely identify the hot spots within a watershed to target precision conservation management practices at these locations. These reports demonstrate how precision conservation can be used to integrate management practices in space and time and to evaluate how management practices contribute to conservation. These technologies can identify high benefit and risk areas and help target optimum management practices to specific locations across fields and watersheds. It is clear that advances of the last decade have contributed to the development of the concept of precision conservation. In the next decade, as technologies and models improve, we can expect that the capability to collect, integrate, and use precision information will be even easier and faster. The papers in this Special Issue provide examples of advances in the use of spatial tools for conducting precision conservation. These new tools are changing conservation research and management across the land and create a vision for how to sustain agricultural production and to conserve our natural resources into the new century.

Technical Abstract: With continuing population growth and increasing demands on water resources, soil and water conservation will be a key practice to secure the needed sustainability of agricultural and water resources and the reduction of environmental impacts to natural resources during the 21st century. Berry et al. (2003) defined “precision conservation” as a set of spatial technologies and procedures to implement conservation management practices that integrates spatial and temporal variability across natural and agricultural systems. This definition integrates spatial technologies including global positioning systems (GPS), remote sensing (RS), geographic information systems (GIS) and the capability to analyze and map these spatial relationships. Precision conservation is broader than precision agriculture since precision conservation contributes to soil and water conservation in agricultural and natural ecosystems. Berry et al (2003, 2005) reported that precision agriculture focus on maximizing yields, while precision conservation focuses on interconnected cycles and flows of energy, materials, chemicals, and water to reduce environmental impacts, off-site transport, and water pollution, while integrating practices that maximize conservation and productivity. The Berry et al. (2003) publication generated enough interest that the Soil Science Society of America, Canadian Soil Science Society, Mexican Soil Science Society and the Division of Soil Water and Management and Conservation organized and held a joint symposium titled “Precision Conservation in North America” at the November 1-4, 2004 annual meeting of the Agronomy Society of America in Seattle, Washington. Sixteen presentations from that symposium are published in this Special Issue of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. Together, they demonstrate a wide range of specific conservation issues that precision conservation can address as well as a variety of methods and approaches that can be employed. Founded on these successes, the purpose of this Special Issue is to spur further development and adoption of these promising new technologies and promote the dual benefits of sustainable agricultural production and environmental health.

Last Modified: 12/19/2014
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