See more from this Session: Impact of C3 (Crop Rotation, Cover Crops, and Conservation Tillage) On Soil Quality: II
Our objective was to assess crop residue cover and soil tillage intensity in the South Fork watershed, a USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) watershed. Cropland accounts for 88% of the 788 km2 watershed and corn and soybeans are grown on 99% of the cropland. With relatively broad band multispectral sensors, such as Landsat TM, SPOT, or AWiFS, crop residues can be brighter or darker than soils depending on soil type, crop type, moisture content, and residue age. Acceptable classification accuracies for 2-3 tillage classes were often possible, but required timely, scene-specific surface reference data for training. With hyperspectral data, physically-based spectral indices that detect absorption features associated with cellulose and lignin were linearly related to crop residue cover. These indices were robust and required minimal surface reference data for mapping soil tillage intensity across agricultural landscapes. Unfortunately, current satellite hyperspectral systems were not capable of imaging the entire watershed in a timely manner. Stratified sampling protocols were developed that used the limited hyperspectral images to provide reliable data to train classifiers of multispectral images. Watershed and regional surveys of soil management practices that affect soil and water quality are possible.