Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Student-Driven Project Aims to Help Farmers and Environment

04.06.2013
What if you could save farmers money, protect the quality of the water in a watershed, help keep invasive plants out of waterways, protect biodiversity and prevent potential oxygen-depletion mass fish kills all with one predictive tool?

That’s the goal of a University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) student-driven project in the Lake Guntersville, Ala., watershed that’s using NASA geospatial technologies and U.S. Department of Agriculture crop data, along with university aquatic plant growth research.

Senior Earth System Science majors Casey Calamaio and Kel Markert have teamed up with advisors Dr. Rob Griffin of UAH and Dr. Jeff Luvall of NASA’s Global Climatology and Hydrology Center to examine the inherent relationship between aquatic vegetation growth and water drainage near locations of high agricultural activity.

“We’d like for the end result of this to be a type of product that you can use to predict the results of various activities on the watershed,” said Dr. Griffin. The product would use historical data on crop acreage and type, combined with annual agricultural activity data and watershed maps to be predictive of aquatic growth, he said.

As a student-driven effort, Dr. Griffin said Calamaio and Markert presented the project to NASA’s DEVELOP program in a competitive process to get it funded. They work as paid interns for NASA as the research is being done. Markert is currently the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) center lead for DEVELOP.

By combining topographical mapping from NASA satellites and Space Shuttle missions with U.S. Dept. of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service data to show where crops are grown and the types of crops, “you can use the digital satellite information to estimate where the crop was planted over the years and what effects of various crops are on the lake vegetation further downstream,” said Dr. Griffin, an assistant professor in Atmospheric Science.

“NASA is always looking for ways to use its satellite imagery to benefit society,” Dr. Griffin said. “What we used from the Shuttle was elevation data to identify our sub-watersheds, where essentially after a rain event occurs, the water flows to a drainage area.”

Measuring the lake’s annual aquatic plant growth and correlating that to periods of agricultural activity like field preparation, fertilizing, herbicide or pesticide spraying and harvest can illustrate when runoff from these activities is affecting the lake, Calamaio said. Using multispectral satellite imagery in the near-infrared and red wavelengths, the researchers created vegetation indices for observing aquatic vegetation growth in the lake and seasonal variations for Lake Guntersville.

The research could save farmers money by showing them how much of the expensive inputs they apply to crops are not staying in place to do their intended jobs. The researchers are working to make it an accurate prediction tool for the future consequences of various farming practices like no till planting or more precise fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide application using GPS data.

Now that the Tennessee Valley Authority is no longer spraying herbicides to kill aquatic weeds, controlling their growth from the nutrient input side has become more important. Controlling the conditions that lead to algae blooms and aquatic weeds helps support the tourism industry at Lake Guntersville by keeping weeds from choking landings and harbors while preventing fish from eventually falling prey to possible mass deaths from oxygen depletion caused by the decay of plant matter in the water column.

That process is known as eutrophication, Calamaio said, where over-enriched waters allow native vegetation to be replaced with different species and biodiversity declines.

“Hopefully with this tool,” he said, “we will be able to create prevention measures to help better keep farm nutrients and chemicals with the crops.”

Jim Steele | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.uah.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

nachricht Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>