Scope C: Using Normalized Differential Vegetation Indices (NDVI) to Measure the Impact of Grazing livestock on the Condition of Grasslands

  • Dougherty, Charles (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The long term objective of this project is to measure, non-destructively and by remote sensing, the condition of grassland resources in agro-ecosystems of the transition zone grasslands. Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI) is the most widely used single measure of the condition of vegetation. NDVI is used in a number of agricultural applications at near-ground level, for example, NDVI is used to determine appropriate site-specific rates of nitrogen fertilizer to grain crops, such as wheat and maize. We have used NDVI instrumentation to assess condition of pastures as they are grazed down and as they recover from grazing. NDVI is determined from scans of the earth's surfaces by NOAA's A VHRR (advanced very high resolution radiometer) pol&1'-orbiting satellites. Upgraded instrumentation on board NOAA's Number 16 Satellite has greatly increased its resolution and, therefore, potential applications. We have also adapted point quadrat analysis to digital images for the estimation of biomass, cover, and diversity of grassland species. These determinants of grassland condition have been compared to conventional methods of pasture analysis for verification ("ground truth"). We propose to integrate these procedures with spatial analysis using GPS and GIS technologiesc and to expand the scope to include research pastures grazed by beef stockers at Animal Research Center, Woodford County, thoroughbred mares grazing at Spindletop and to some commercial equine and beef stocker farms in the Bluegrass presently monitored by UK researchers and extension personnel. When we relate this information to that of the NDVI data base from Satellite 16 we will have a powerful tool for the real time spatial analysis of grassland agro-ecosystems. A probable outcome of this project will be real time maps and animated time series maps of grassland condition throughout the year at scales of field, farm, county, commonwealth, and transition zone. These maps could display the seasonal tends in NDVI, discriminate between different grassland species (e.g. tall fescue, alfalfa, warm season grasses), show the extent and location of environmental stress (e.g. drought, flood, fire, frost) and the consequences of grassland management and utilization (e.g. overgrazing, fertilization, clover introduction). This infonnation will be available through UK's Agricultural Weather Center web site. Specific objectives of these experiments 1. To determine throughout the entire year, the condition of grasslands (as indexed by NDVI) of experimental bovine and equine grazing systems and of intensively-monitored commercial farm equine and beef enterprises. 2. To explore and quantify relationships between NDVI and conventional destructive and nondestructive variables that is used to define the condition of pastures. 3. To relate data on NDVI of grasslands to data on the weather, properties, activity, and productivity of grazing experiments on research farms of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and on commercial beef cattle and equine farms monitored by the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. 4. To integrate ground truth data from experimental and commercial grazing systems with NDVI data obtained from the NOAA A VHRR data. 5. To produce real time, field, farm, county, state, and transition zone maps showing grassland conditions that are readily accessed from UK's Agricultural Weather Center via the internet. 6. To develop applications of this information technology.
Effective start/end date9/15/049/14/07


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