Linking Land Potential to Ecosystem Response

As part of a growing community of LandPKS users, we are highlighting use cases around the world. Below is one of the use cases from the United States.

At New Mexico State University, student researchers are using the LandInfo module of the LandPKS mobile application to augment a more detailed vegetation monitoring program designed to investigate the ecological impacts of brush control on big sagebrush communities in northern New Mexico. On research sites, the assessment of land potential based on soil properties is providing useful insight into ecosystem response to herbicide applications designed to achieve management objectives linked to livestock production and other ecosystem services. By linking LandPKS evaluations to plant and soil biological community response, researchers hope to develop best management practices for future brush control treatments to produce the desired results while also minimizing degradation risk.

Jeremy Schallner and Amy Ganguli (Graduate Student and Associate Professor of Range Science) Department of Animal and Range Sciences, New Mexico State University

LandCover: A Mobile Tool for Vegetation Monitoring

LandCover: A Mobile Tool for Vegetation Monitoring

By Amy Quandt

The Land Potential-Knowledge System (LandPKS; landpotential.org) is creating mobile applications that help land managers collect, store, and analyze data in order to inform decision making, agricultural production, and vegetation monitoring and restoration.  It does this through the use of the LandPKS Mobile app, which is free to download and use for both Android and iPhone.  The LandPKS app currently has two modules: LandInfo and LandCover.

The major goal of the LandCover module is to assist users with collecting vegetation cover data using a point-intercept method.  LandCover is designed to be a simple, user-friendly substitute for traditional paper monitoring sheets for vegetation cover.  The only equipment needed is a meter/yard stick and the LandPKS app installed on a smartphone.  First, the user designates a center point of the plot.  Next, the user walks 5 meters/yards in one direction from the center, drops the stick, and enters which vegetation types directly touch the stick at 5 points along the stick, measures plant height, and establishes if there are canopy or basal gaps.  This is then repeated at 10, 15, 20, and 25 meters/yards along that given transect.  Lastly, this process is repeated in the 3 remaining transect.  Overall, this method yields 100 points of vegetation cover data per plot in about 20 minutes.

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Importantly, results are calculated immediately on the phone about cover type, plant cover, canopy height, and gaps.  In addition to receiving results on the phone, users can also access their data on our open-source data portal at portal.landpotential.org.  Further, a user can enter vegetation cover data for the same plot at various intervals and immediately get results about trends in vegetation cover.  LandCover can be used globally, and the module is currently being used extensively in the rangelands of Namibia and Kenya.

There are several important advantages of using the LandCover module for measuring vegetation cover.  First, it gets rid of paper forms that can be lost or damaged. Second, results are delivered immediately to a user without the need for extensive data analysis.  This benefit was mentioned by rangeland managers in Samburu County, Kenya, who told the LandPKS team that now they can see results directly on the phone themselves, instead of waiting months to maybe get results back from their headquarter offices.  This makes it easier and more efficient for real-time vegetation monitoring and decision making. Third, the LandCover module makes vegetation restoration efforts easy to monitor.  This has important implications for both maintaining wildlife habitat and encouraging the growth of fodder species for livestock.  Lastly, the LandCover results help natural resource managers make more sustainable decisions about their land, which can lead to greater productivity and less environmental degradation.  Download the LandPKS app to try out the LandCover module today!  For more information about LandPKS please visit our website at landpotential.org or e-mail us at contact@landpotential.org.

 

Introducing Heather Brown: Web Developer

The LandPKS Team would like to introduce Heather Brown, our new LandPKS Web Developer.  Heather has been working hard to improve both the usability and usefulness of the LandPKS website over the past few months.  Heather graduated with her Masters of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University in May 2016. Her focus was in web design and information architecture. Heather is responsible for designing and maintaining web pages of Land Potential and Portal websites. Her most recent project included constructing a new website for Land Potential with the help of several of our enigmatic team members.
In order to create the new site Heather had to research all available web builders to see which one would best serve our needs and enable the growth of our organization and project. Once the web builder was chosen she had to import all relevant data and text into the new site. With the help of our graphic designer and local coordinator, the theme, color scheme, and page images were chosen. With the new site up and running Heather will be responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of the site and providing assistance where needed. She is hoping to be able to develop plugins relevant to our project’s work and upload them to WordPress for more organizations to employ.
On a more personal note, Heather enjoys gardening, crafting, and trying new recipes. She believes that living in the southwest provides a fun challenge when trying to construct a garden.