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Research Project: Enhancing Water Resources, Production Efficiency and Ecosystem Services in Gulf Atlantic Coastal Plain Agricultural Watersheds

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: USDA Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) Network and earth observation research

item Tsegaye, Teferi
item Coffin, Alisa

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/13/2018
Publication Date: 2/15/2018
Citation: Tsegaye, T.D., Coffin, A.W. 2018. USDA Long Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) Network and earth observation research. Workshop: Emerging Technologies and Methods in Earth Observation for Agricultural Monitoring. Abstract.

Interpretive Summary: not required.

Technical Abstract: The USDA Long Term Agroecosystem Research Network consists of a network of 18 locations across the conterminous United States of America. The sites are hosted by USDA-ARS laboratories, the Archbold Biological Station and University of Florida, Michigan State University and the University of Nebraska. The locations consist of long term research facilities focusing on croplands and grazinglands research. The purpose of the research network is to assess and enable sustainable working lands. The mission of LTAR is to enable understanding and forecasting of regional landscape capacities to provide agricultural commodities and ecosystem services under changing conditions, with a vision of sustainable agroecosystems providing goods and services. To be sustainable, agriculture must transform itself to satisfy human needs for food, feed and fiber, enhance environmental quality, sustain economic viability and enhance the quality of life. These characteristics must be quantified in agricultural research in LTAR through the implementation of a common experiment on all LTAR sites that test and compare aspirational agricultural practices with practices representing the status quo, or "business as usual." This shared research strategy is being accomplished within the framework of a grand challenge to optimize factors of genetics, the environment, and management, the "GxExM" approach. LTAR research will also add socio-economic factors to this approach. LTAR is structured as a community, with a leadership team and technical working groups facilitating the work. The network is working on establishing data management and harmonization practices to work with collaborators and partner networks so that the data generated within LTAR will be available for analyses with interested collaborators. An additional, future LTAR site in California is planned. The LTAR network has completed building a backbone of working groups and has established a data pipeline with data coming online and being harmonized with collaborators and other networks including AgMIP, JECAM, Climate Hubs and others. A number of network wide research projects have begun, and LTAR sites are developing their common experiment designs including aggressive aspirational scenarios. Within the LTAR network, earth observation data plays a crucial role. The LTAR Remote Sensing and GIS working group was created to share information about, develop resources for and conduct networked research related to remote sensing and GIS in the LTAR network. The working group conducts monthly calls to share information and has carried out surveys of the LTAR network to identify expertise within the network and develop a shared understanding of EO research priorities within the network. Ongoing earth observation research within LTAR includes funded work with NASA, participation in the SMAP calibration and validation efforts, characterizing phenology across the network, and collaborating with the JECAM network on the SAR Intercomparison experiment. The working group supports the development of geospatial data standards for the LTAR network and the implementation of best data management practices in collaboration with LTAR network data managers.