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Title: Recent advances in precision (Target) conservation

item Delgado, Jorge
item KHOSLA, RAJ - Colorado State University
item MUELLER, TOM - University Of Kentucky

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/28/2011
Publication Date: 11/18/2011
Citation: Delgado, J.A., Khosla, R., Mueller, T. 2011. Recent advances in precision (Target) conservation. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation Society. 66:167A-170A.

Interpretive Summary: This special issue shows that we can now more precisely apply planting furrows at contour to minimize the erosion. We can now develop precise digital elevation maps that, together with modern GPS techniques, and agricultural machines, could find year after year the locations where the conservation practices are implemented. Precision conservation and computer models are helping us integrate across this variability to even assess how site-specific conservation practices could potentially reduce the off-site transport of nutrients to water treatment plants. There is now a Nutrient Tracking Tool capable of assessing the benefits of precision conservation practices down the watershed. Not only are these models allowing us to evaluate the application of precision conservation practice across the landscape, but they are helping us show farmers how they can potentially sell these ecosystem services. This special issue has several papers that report on the advancement of modeling to assess variable hydrology and even assess how to potentially manage crop residue removal to minimize environmental impacts. There have been advances even in applying precision conservation agriculture to across the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, increasing conservation and even productivity. Even precision conservation research from Canada shows that if we understand the factors that contribute to erosion variability and how it reduces yields, we can use precision conservation practices to reclaim some of soil productivity lost due to erosion. These papers clearly show that we can target conservation across the watershed to increase efficiency in managing natural and agricultural areas. Precision conservation will be a key tool to help us achieve food security in the 21st century.

Technical Abstract: The 21st century is presenting societies around the world with global challenges that require the implementation of soil and water conservation practices and/or programs if food security and sustainability are to be achieved. The threats from climate change, population growth, depletion of water resources, and other global challenges will put additional pressure on soil resources, with potential negative effects such as higher erosion rates that could reduce agricultural productivity. Application of principles of communication, conservation practices and the development of new science and technology will be needed to maintain and/or increase productivity. One of the key principles of soil and water conservation practices for climate change mitigation and adaptation is the increase of effectiveness with Landscape-Targeting Precision Conservation. This special issue about recent advances in precision conservation presents examples showing how precision conservation can be used to increase conservation effectiveness and/or productivity, even with low-input and/or sustainable systems. This is one of the tools that we have at our disposal to help us mitigate and adapt to global challenges.