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ARS Home » Plains Area » Mandan, North Dakota » Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #433337

Research Project: Developing Tools for Better Management of Rangeland, Pastures and Forages

Location: Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory

Project Number: 3064-21660-004-010-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2017
End Date: Aug 31, 2022

1) Develop tools for remotely determining herbage biomass from forage and cover crops, assess crop residue cover and soil moisture profile; 2) Develop new protocols to improve the functionality of the LTAR phenocam network; and 3) Develop and refine tools to help crop and livestock producers and government agencies more effectively cope with drought conditions.

Objective one will be addressed by utilizing multispectral and thermal imagery, light intercept ratios, NDVI, digital camera imagery, and other remote sensing technologies, as well as ground-truthed data, to evaluate the biomass produced by cover crops in a long-term integrated crop-livestock project on the location and crop residue prodcued in an organic agriculture field study. Objective two will be addressed by working with the LTAR phenocam network to provide methods to more accurately evaluate color changes under a variety of light conditions and develop new protocols to assess crop phenology. Objective three will be addressed by 1) reviewing existing tools, such as Drought Calculator or GrassCast developed or under development to project herbage biomass under drought conditions; 2) determining the strengths and weaknesses of each approach; and 3) based on this information, improve or develop a web-based drought management tool for use in the northern Great Plains. Objective three will also be addressed by quantifying residue and weed seedbank and soil moisture in the organic agriculture field study, and conducting water use efficiency estimates in an ongoing rainout shelter study and a study evaluating the portential for including annuals in perrenial systems.