Using Remote Sensing Data to Map Conservation Ag Practices
CTIC has partnered with Regrow and The Nature Conservancy on the development, testing and application of the Operational Tillage Information System (OpTIS), an automated system to map tillage, residue cover, winter cover, and soil health practices using remote sensing data. While OpTIS calculations are performed at the farm-field scale using publicly available data, the privacy of individual producers is fully protected by reporting only spatially-aggregated results at regional and watershed scales.
OpTIS-based data are currently available for the years 2005 through 2020 for the US Corn Belt.
A new dataset released in December 2021 covers additional geography with notable expansions into Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The data are also now presented in the context of a two-year crop rotation with options to review by the previous and following cash crop for both tillage and winter cover. Both the OpTIS and DNDC pages have been updated with new charts and maps to further enhance identification of trends and opportunities to promote the adoption of conservation practices.
On April 29, 2022, CTIC, Regrow Ag and TNC hosted OpTIS: High Level Insights on Cover Crops. In this webinar we heard from Prof. Roderick Rejesus (NCSU) about a new research study that uses OpTIS data to explore whether crop insurance programs discourage growers from planting cover crops. We also heard from Soren Rundquist (Regrow) and Dave Gustafson (CTIC) as they reviewed the latest OpTIS results on the adoption of cover crops across the Corn Belt and elsewhere in the US.
CTIC is leading a new effort to pilot a phosphorus load reduction market in the Western Lake Erie Basin (Maumee, Sandusky, and Cedar-Portage watersheds, see map). Growers within the indicated watersheds are now being sought to
participate in this pilot market.