To support watershed management efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, BEA produced a report documenting how satellite-based classification of agricultural crops and best management practices (BMPs) could be used to identify areas where enhanced conservation could potentially improve water quality in local waterways.
The goal of this initial investigation was to determine if a conservation organization with in-house geographic information systems expertise could successfully use satellite-based classification techniques to assess if farm owners and operators are using cover crops and conservation tillage—two of the most important agricultural BMPs in the Bay watershed. Burke Environmental Associates teamed with Environmental Working Group’s Agriculture and Natural Resources program and Chesapeake Commons to: obtain the appropriate digital and field-based data; conduct satellite image processing work; and build the GIS work flow processes needed to accomplish the goal. The authors concluded that even small organizations with in-house GIS expertise can develop the skills required to track and verify a variety of BMPs and detect hot spots in the watershed where improved field conservation practices are needed.
Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment