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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
This project will unify existing, historical data on the land use and management of USDA-ARS’s WE-38 experimental watershed into a database that can be better utilized as a research asset.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The Penn State Center for Environmental Informatics (CEI) CEI will conduct (a) data modeling, (b) database design and implementation, (c) legacy data keying, translation and loading, (d) development of data entry and management tools and/or procedures, (e) development of example queries. Data modeling will focus on generating an accurate data model that best fits the needs of future USDA-ARS research. CEI would focus on analyzing the existing data and working with USDA-ARS researchers to develop a data model that fits historical data and that could allow the incorporation of future data. Database design and implementation will involve creating schema, tables, and relationships as well as choosing the appropriate software for database implementation. The key deliverable will be an empty and ready-to-use database. Legacy data keying, translation, and loading will entail normalizing and cleaning the data in preparation for loading into a single database. The key deliverable for this activity will be a legacy database containing a pre-determined amount of existing data that has been normalized, keyed, and translated. In order to make future data entry easier and less prone to error, CEI will develop tools and/or procedures that will assist USDA-ARS staff to enter, update, and manage data.

3. Progress Report:
Research under this agreement supports the creation of a long-term database of historical land-use and land management for the WE-38 watershed. In FY2013, we focused on the development and refinement of a data model and associated lookup tables for the WE-38 land management database. The data model defined the linkages between watersheds, farms, and fields, and the associated management activities occurring at each scale of interest. Examples of relevant management activities included tillage and cropping sequences, fertilization, conservation practices, and livestock activity. Two undergraduate students employed by the project led efforts to digitize legacy land management data, develop automated forms with dropdown menus in MS Access to facilitate data entry, and assess data quality and control issues. To date, WE-38 land management data have been used to support watershed simulation models of phosphorus loss in the WE-38 watershed.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 05/21/2017
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