Home Natural Resource Management Satellite imagery aids USDA

Satellite imagery aids USDA

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded a contract to Space Imaging to provide high-resolution IKONOS satellite imagery of Alaska for the USDA’s Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) program. This program serves as the federal government’s principal source of information on the status, condition and trends of soil, water and related resources in the United States. For the first time ever, the USDA will use a combination of archive and newly tasked IKONOS satellite images to map and apply NRI primary data elements to inventory land use, evaluate loss of farmland to urbanization, measure the effectiveness of conservation practices and detect changes to the landscape from soil erosion.

The inventory process has a longer cycle in Alaska due to the difficult logistics of acquiring data in its remote regions. IKONOS has been initially tasked to capture images of 38 contiguous areas of interest. An additional 350 areas of interest will eventually be acquired. Some areas captured by IKONOS allow the NRI to cluster samples and view two to three primary sample units at one time, which enables it to maximize its return on investment.

The NRI is a statistical survey of land use and natural resource conditions and trends on U.S. non-federal lands. As part of its urban assessment program, the NRI can determine how much land has been gained or lost over a period of time. The NRI program is responsible for inventory of privately held urban land including crop land and range land, and to conserve and sustain natural resources in the 50 states and U.S.-owned territories.

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