UF NASA Grassland Study
The intersection of agriculture and space is always a fascinating topic to cover. This one hits close to home as the University of Florida is partnering with one Florida cattle ranch and NASA to evaluate grazing procedures.
Chris Wilson, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of agronomy and agroecologist is heading a project aimed at using data from NASA satellites to monitor grazing management on Florida cattle ranches. Chris explains the struggles of Florida ranchers in properly evaluating pasture grass and how these new tools can help.
"A lot of ranchers in Florida really operate at really large scales, thousands of acres. So it's hard to go out and measure how much pasture grass you have. What quality of grass do you have across space on many thousands of acres ranch. The promise of remote sensing and we've demonstrated this with some past projects is that you can get a lot of insight into these spatial variations in your production and your quality."
Chris and his team are also partnering with Desert ranch, the largest cattle operation in Florida, for their study. They're hoping this project gives insight on effective grassland management plans as well as evaluating ecosystems.
"[We want to] Really help facilitate that grassland management side, but long term we are interested in quantifying some of these ecosystem services. So what role do these ranch lands play in sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere, those kind of questions."