Healthy Prairies & Space Cowboys

Thanks to Cool Green Science:

Space Cowboys: A New Generation of Prairie Keepers

The answer relies on complex and changing variables (precipitation, vegetation, soil, herd characteristics, etc.); results are difficult and tedious to monitor on the ground. That’s why The Nature Conservancy in Oregon is partnered with other private landowners, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University of Idaho to use satellites to monitor vegetation cover on the Zumwalt Prairie. Yes, satellites.

Satellite data allows conservation geographers to accurately assess vegetation cover. Looking at imagery over time can reveal changes in the density of plants.

“If you see that a pasture two years in a row is decreasing in the amount of cover,” Vincent Jansen, a doctoral student working on the project says, “[ranchers] might be able to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to put less cows in there this next year.’”…

Read the whole story here.

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