Online Tool Helps Farmers, Others Assess Vegetation

Online Tool Helps Farmers, Others Assess Vegetation

Maps posted weekly showing photosynthesis activity in Kansas and across the country.

The Ecology and Agriculture Spatial Analysis Laboratory at Kansas State University has developed an online tool that can be used weekly to help farmers, gardeners and anyone else who like an overview of conditions for vegetation growth keep up with the latest data.

The Comparative Vegetation Condition Report is a series of maps posted online weekly – typically in conjunction with the electronic newsletter Agronomy eUpdate, produced by K-State Research and Extension's agronomists. The maps indicate photosynthesis activity (and the lack of it) in Kansas, the Corn Belt, and across the continental United States. The newsletter and vegetation reports are both online at http://www.agronomy.ksu.edu/extension/p.aspx?tabid=58.

The maps for June and July, for example, clearly show that Kansas is a state divided this summer. Northeast Kansas has had abundant spring and early summer rainfall and that is reflected in the dramatic difference in biomass between that area and southwest Kansas, which has experienced extremely dry conditions this summer. This week's maps also show the effects of drought that is spreading across the southern United States and now affects almost two-thirds of the state of Kansas.

"These maps can be a valuable tool for making crop selection and marketing decisions," said K-State agronomy professor Kevin Price. "We wanted to provide people with a means of assessing the relative condition of crops and grassland. The maps can be used to assess current plant growth rates, as well as make comparisons to the previous year's and to the 21-year average."

The report is useful for farmers and ranchers, the commodities market, and political leaders, Price said, because it helps them to assess factors such as production potential and drought impact across their state.

"This is the kind of thing that producers might want to bookmark on their computers, to follow on an ongoing basis," said State of Kansas Climatologist Mary Knapp, who provides comments with the weekly maps. 

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