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Precision Agriculture: Precision Resource Management - Phase VI
T.S. Stombaugh, C.T. Agouridis, S.A. Shearer, J. Wilhoit, S.K. Pitla, M.P. Sama, R.S. Zandonadi, R.C. Warner, J.D. Luck, T.C. Dowdy, B.D. Lee, M.A. Arthur
Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
Problems facing most Kentucky landowners and farmers include the lack of appropriate and cost effective strategies to manage scarce and variable resources in a site-specific manner. Specific efforts in this project are split between developing and advancing geospatial technologies in support of three thrusts:
i) natural resource management,
ii) land use planning and decision-making and
iii) agricultural systems in Kentucky.
These thrusts are addressed by specific objectives within 13 subprojects. The titles of each subproject and broad overall goals are as follows:
1) Spatial Pattern and Environmental Factors that Contribute to Tall Fescue Resistance to Eradication and Re-establishment - utilize a spatial sampling approach for grassland restoration to identify whether tall fescue dominance is correlated to environmental and biotic parameters, assess the herbicide efficacy, and to quantify tall fescue re-establishment.
2) Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) for Forest Inventory and Fuel Load Mapping - to determine the potential for LiDAR for quantifying fuel loads and altered stand structure resulting from known prescribed burns.
3) Determining Landscape Areas for Targeted Reforestation Efforts - identify reforestation opportunities and constraints using KLS and KLC data to model reforestation scenarios.
4) Use of GIS and WATER to Identify and Delineate Stream Types in Eastern Kentucky - develop standard protocols to delineate ephemeral, intermittent and perennial streams.
5) Is There Spatial Coincidence in Elevated Soil P and Runoff Potential in Pastures - use spatial analysis to evaluate the coincidence higher soil P with run-off potential to predict off-site movement.
6) Predicting Landscape Change in the Central Bluegrass - utilize KLS, KLC, and Landsat data to develop predictive models for assessing landscape change.
7) Precision Agriculture's Impact on Kentucky Farmers' Carbon Footprint - provide grain crop producers economically sound avenues for environmental enhancement through the adoption of precision agriculture technologies.
8) Scalable Control and Data Acquisition for Variable-Rate Applications - develop variable-rate distributed control networks for use with commercial sprayers.
9) Sprayer Controller Evaluation for Improving Spatial Application of Pesticides - develop capacitance-based wireless sensor network for evaluating spray application uniformity.
10) Robotic Architecture for Deployment of Multiple Autonomous Agricultural Vehicles - develop robust control methodology/architectures and communication protocols or coordinating multiple UAgVs.
11) Automated Guidance for Improved Plasticulture Production Systems - evaluate autosteer systems for laying plastic mulch and for subsequent production passes.
12) Designing Grassed Waterway Systems Using LIDAR Data - determine if concentrated flow pathways can be identified with LIDAR for the identification of waterways.
13) Impact of Animal Position within Dairy Compost Bedded Pack Barns on Barn Performance - develop a low-cost animal position monitoring system for use in confinement dairy facilities.
2011 Project Description
Subproject 1: Researchers collected plant cover and tall fescue endophyte infection frequency data from the field where renovation will occur. Tall fescue cover shows spatial autocorrelation, but endophyte infection frequencies were universally high across the field (tested fescue tillers were >80% infected).
Subproject 2: LiDAR data were acquired and analyzed along with detailed plot-level GPS locations and tree locations along with tree diameter and height.
Subproject 3: Preliminary models were developed in conjunction with LA 956 based on water resources, forest fragmentation, and a particular forest dependent neo-tropical migrant bird. Initial landscape solar radiation calculations were performed for the study area.
Subproject 4: A review of the relevant scientific literature was conducted to initiate the process of identifying stream and basin characteristics for use in the GIS model. A USGS senior scientist visited the undisturbed watersheds in Robinson Forest to better understand site characteristics for developing a WATER model.
Subproject 6: Data were collected and configured in support of SLEUTH model calibration. Multiple calibration metrics were compared for use in the prediction mode, which is important for identifying coefficient values for testing exclusion and attraction areas in the landscape.
Subproject 7: Expertise in precision agriculture economics research resulted in two invited presentations. The first was at the Bright Animal EU Framework 7 Coordination and Support Action Workshop in Copenhagen, Denmark to discuss precision dairy farming integration of economic and environmental aspects. Another presentation was made at the 10th International Conference on Precision Agriculture in Denver, Colorado.
Subproject 8: Development kits were investigated in support of the communications component with concurrent controller design. Electromechanical components were specified to implement the system on a high-clearance self-propelled sprayer.
Subproject 9: A spray table has been constructed in support of control module development and calibration. Initial testing of capacitance-based sensors utilized existing spray nozzles. In addition, some of the wireless components were purchased and are being evaluated.
Subproject 10: An Individual Robot Control Architecture (IRCA) was developed using Behavior Based principles. A Multi-Robot System Control Architecture was proposed for operating multiple vehicles simultaneously. Seven Autonomous Vehicle Platforms were developed along with control software in VB.net and MATLAB.
Subproject 11: Field test procedures were developed to compare the performance of two automatic tractor guidance systems. Both systems will be evaluated for placing plastic mulch for vegetable production.
Subproject 12: LiDAR has been used to collect elevation data in support of calculating terrain attributes (e.g., slope, aspect, and curvature). These analyses were automated using the command line TauDEM.
Subproject 13: Researchers interviewed suppliers to specify tracking technology for assessing animal position within compost-bedded pack barns.
Subproject 2: Prescribed fire is being used with increasing frequency as a forest management tool in the central Appalachian hardwood forest region, often with little or no monitoring to determine whether the outcomes meet the management objectives. LiDAR is being used to measure and evaluate change in forest structure, carbon release through combustion, and other structural and process-level consequences of forest burning.
Subproject 4: Identification of ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial streams via remote methods such as GIS and modeling such as with WATER are of significant interest to the EPA and OSM, particularly in the realm of CHIAs, as field reconnaissance of such as large watershed is expensive and time consuming. A protocol for delineating stream types and developing flow duration curves is an essential tool for the regulatory process.
Subproject 7: Research findings established the need to consider adaptive farmer behavior in policy development as well as the establishment that variable rate fertilization does not globally result in reduced total farm fertilization levels as compared to uniform rate fertilization. Empirically, contributions beyond those already mentioned include economic analysis of autosteer technology and the investigation of hedonic modeling for herbicide price determination. It was determined that auto-steer navigation was profitable for a grain farmer in Kentucky with net returns increasing up to 0.90% ($3.35/acre).
Subproject 8: Researchers will have a platform for evaluating variable rate technology in the field while producers will gain a better understanding of how variable rate technology works along with its limitations.
Subproject 9: The proposed system, if proven effective, will introduce a new means to evaluate as-applied pesticides during spraying operations. This will provide researchers and manufacturers the ability to quickly evaluate the deployment of new spray application technologies for minimization or elimination of off-rate pesticide application.
Subproject 10: Efficient use of land and available resources will be possible as multiple Unmanned Agricultural Vehicles (UAgVs) divide the task coverage area into smaller work zones. The proposed system is scalable; the number of UAgVs deployed increases with the size of the operation. Conversely, the same technology utilized by large scale farms of the future will be available for deployment on small farms. By utilizing UAgVs the physical size of an individual machine is reduced thereby virtually eliminating liability. Smaller machine size will facilitate switching to electric power to displace IC engines (reducing reliance on dwindling petroleum reserves and avoiding concerns over off-highway emissions).
Dillon, C.R. 2010. Profitability of Dairy Cattle through Precision Livestock Farming. Proceedings of the Bright Animal EU Framework 7 Coordination and Support Action Workshop. Copenhagen, Denmark. May 27 - 28.
Dillon, C.R. and J. Shockley. 2010. Precision Management for Enhancing Farmer Net Returns with the Conservation Reserve Program. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Precision Agriculture. Denver, Colorado. July 18-20. 10 pp.
Hall, S.L., R.L. McCulley, and R.J. Barney. 2011. Restoration of native warm season grassland species in a tall fescue pasture using prescribed fire and herbicides. Restoration Ecology. In Press.
Hall, S.L., R.L. McCulley, R.J. Barney, and T.D. Phillips. 2010. Effects of fungal endophyte symbiosis, prescribed fire, and water availability on tall fescue growth. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.
Lee, B.D. 2010. Areas of Agreement and Disagreement using SLEUTH Landscape Change Models for Predicting Urbanization in Central Kentucky. 2010 Kentucky GIS Conference. October 13-15. Frankfort, Kentucky.
Lee, B.D. 2011. A Landscape Change Model Calibration Approach for Predicting Urbanization. 2011 Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Conference. March 30-April 2. Los Angeles, California.
Luck, J.D., S.K. Pitla, S.A. Shearer, T.G. Mueller, C.R. Dillon, J.P. Fulton and S.F. Higgins. 2010. Potential for Pesticide and Nutrient Savings via Map-based Automatic Boom Section Control of Spray Nozzles. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture. 70(1):19-26.
Shockley, Jordan. Ph.D. Dissertation. 2010. Whole Farm Modeling of Precision Agriculture Technologies.
Van Aardt, Jan, Mary Arthur, Gretchen Sovkoplas. 2011. Extending plot-level fuel load assessment to landscapes - a lidar height distribution approach. 34th International Symposium on Remote Sensing and the Environment. April 10-15, Sydney, Australia.