Date: Thu Aug 4, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
At Taves Bayou Planting, our goal is to provide a commodity that consumers buy with confidence, knowing that it was grown in an environment that enhances soil health while maximizing the best use of the land. We utilize an array of devices ranging from drones in the sky to sub-surface fertigation to maintain a conservation friendly growing experience. Keeping the aircraft from becoming sub-surface, and the micro-irrigation from becoming airborne geysers can be a challenge. It has proven very beneficial to allow the next generation to concentrate on the techy side.
Since 1989, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) has been conducting a tillage and crop residue survey in over 3,000 counties across the agricultural United States to assess the adoption of high residue farming practices. The survey was conducted as a windshield survey where a team of experts in each county drove a prescribed route through their county and assessed tillage type, previous and present crop and residue amount at regular intervals throughout the county. Each county route was planned such that the survey constituted a statistically relevant evaluation of tillage types and residue amounts at the county level. This survey was conducted consistently on an annual basis between 1989 and 2004 and still remains the most robust and complete database of tillage practices in existence. Despite its age, information from this survey is still being used today.
The Operational Tillage Information System, or OpTIS, is a program developed by scientists at Applied GeoSolutions to estimate fractional crop residue cover on agricultural lands and also determine the presence or absence of cover crops. This program is a measurement tool that can be used to estimate tillage types and amounts and can help to determine trends in tillage use over multiple years, including establishing a means of measuring continuous no-till or the continuous (or annual) use of minimum tillage practices that leave high amounts of crop residue on the soil surface for conservation and soil health purposes.
OpTIS uses remote sensing technology and aerial photography to measure the light reflectivity from agricultural land. Based on the kind and amount of light that is being reflected, algorithms have been created that can estimate the percentage of the land that is covered by crop residue from the previous year’s crop that has been left on the soil surface. By using weather information, soil moisture, humidity and other physical factors, scientists can account for variability in light reflectivity to improve consistency and accuracy of fractional crop residue cover estimates.
Also by evaluating the green bands of light, OpTIS can pick out those fields where cover crops are being used, giving conservationists, modelers and others a realistic look at the percentage of farmland being covered by cover crops. By using multiple photos from various timeframes, we can pick out those fields where cover crops are used and distinguish those from fields of wheat or other small grains.
OpTIS is being piloted in Indiana to determine its applicability at estimating crop residue levels on a larger geography and to refine the algorithms that estimate crop residue levels.
During periods with decreased commodity prices, identifying those portions of a field or farming operation that have decreased or negative return on investment offer opportunities for conservation to increase income. Pheasants Forever, Inc. works with landowners to identify areas where conservation programs can be used to address environmental concerns and increase income. When conservation fits into the farming operation, those areas are then identified for high quality habitat projects that benefit a wide range of wildlife from pollinator species to grassland songbirds to pheasants and quail.