Using GIS/GPS in Forage Grass Research

Project Coordinator:Jeremy Singer, Extension Specialist Dave Lee, Salem County Extension Agent
Marilyn G. Hughes, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Remote Sensing Center

Optimizing Cool Season Grass Hay Production using Site-Specific Field Methods and GPS/GIS/RS Technology

Hay is the single largest crop in New Jersey occupying over 130,000 acres. Grass hay represents 80% of this acreage. A preliminary study carried out at the NJAES Snyder Research Farm, Pittstown NJ this past summer showed that current nitrogen (N) recommendations for cool-season grass hay production may not optimize resources. The highest yielding plots (highest nitrogen input) were not the most economical for growers. More information is required to determine the species and N rate combinations that provide maximum profitability for hay producers. In addition, because N is mobile in soil, a site-specific approach to nitrogen management will improve N use efficiency and minimize the potential for environmental degradation.

The purpose of this project is to integrate new technologies in GLobal Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and Remote Sensing (RS) with an intensive site-specific project on optimizing nitrogen recommendations for cool season grass hay production in New Jersey. Factors responsible for the spatial and temporal yield variability will be monitored and mapped in ArcView GIS (ESRI, Redlands, CA). This information will be used to determine the feasibility of variable-rate technology for small to medium sized production systems in New Jersey and the Northeast.

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