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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #370334

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

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

Title: Cropping patterns over two decades in the Little River Experimental Watershed, Georgia, USA

item Coffin, Alisa
item Bosch, David - Dave
item Strickland, Timothy - Tim
item Endale, Dinku
item Pisani, Oliva
item Lowrance, Robert

Submitted to: Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/24/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The Little River Experimental Watershed (LREW) is at the center of the Gulf Atlantic Coastal Plain (GACP), a site of the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network. Since 1997, researchers at the LREW have been surveying land cover annually for a subset of fields throughout the watershed. A primary goal of the LTAR network is to conduct experimental research and gather observations on agricultural practices that represent the region, with the goal of promoting the sustainable intensification of agriculture, increasing production while decreasing environmental impacts. However, to achieve this goal, a “business-as-usual” (BAU) baseline scenario first needs to be described, against which scientists can compare and evaluate results for new “aspirational” management systems. To characterize the BAU cropping scenario for the GACP, we examined the 20-year record of surveys in the LREW and summarized regional cropping practices. We digitized the observational data, incorporating them into a geodatabase, and used a geographic information system to analyze changes in crop type over time for a group of fields within one of the LREW sub-watersheds. We characterized the spatial distribution and frequency of crop types and described the rotational sequences for both irrigated and dryland fields for a subset of fields in the LREW. Finally, we compared our results with crop type information provided by the USDA Cropland Data Layer for the same region over the last decade to observe concordance of the national dataset with survey-derived “ground truth” for the GACP.