Rapid Soil and Ecological Site Identification and Vegetation Monitoring Using the LandPKS App and EDIT

TitleRapid Soil and Ecological Site Identification and Vegetation Monitoring Using the LandPKS App and EDIT
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsHerrick JE, Bestelmeyer BT, Brown JR, Lepak D, Murph R, Quandt A, Rizza J, Talbot C, Williamson JC
Conference Name72nd Society for Range Management International Meeting
Date Published02/2019
PublisherSociety for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Conference LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota
ARIS Log Number361623

There has been significant progress in standardizing rangeland inventory and monitoring methods in the past 20 years. Improved ecological site descriptions (ESDs) provide access to a wealth of information that can be used to optimize management. The protocols have been adopted by the NRCS and BLM, resulting in large datasets that are increasingly analyzed to improve ESDs. This “big data” could also be used to interpret ranch-level monitoring results. Multiple indicators can be generated from these datasets, addressing a variety of objectives including livestock production, soil and water conservation, and wildlife habitat restoration. The vast majority of landowners and managers, however, are neither applying the standardized protocols nor accessing ESDs because the protocols require too much time, data storage and analysis are too complicated, and it’s too difficult to identify ecological sites. We will provide an overview of a pair of new tools that address these challenges. LandPKS (Land-Potential Knowledge System) is a free mobile app that includes the following functions: (1) guided soil profile description that is used by embedded algorithms to (2) predict the soil and ecological site and (3) link to basic ecological site information in EDIT (Ecological Data Interpretation Tool). EDIT provides (4) the ability to independently identify ecological sites using embedded keys, (5) the information formerly available through ESIS in a much more user-friendly and interactive format, and (6) tools for entering and updating ecological site information. LandPKS also includes a “LandCover” module that allows landowners and managers to (7) collect vegetation cover data compatible with the data collected by NRCS and BLM, and (8) automatically calculates indicators and backs up the data in the cloud. By late 2019 it will also allow users to compare their data with anonymized data from the large NRCS and BLM datasets for land with similar potential.