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Mapping the Future

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In January 1998, the Agricultural Division employed a digital imaging specialist, Tresa Runyan, who has tremendously enhanced our consultation efforts. One of the most useful tools for our consultants is an aerial photo-map of the cooperator's land. These maps are used as an inventory and planning tool to assist in calculating acres of total land area, pastures, brush, range sites, soil series, surface water, etc.

Once a copy of a cooperator's aerial photograph is acquired, Tresa digitizes property boundaries, existing fences, facilities, water, and other points of interest depending on the needs of the cooperator. The computer program used for creating the maps also calculates acreages of these areas.

The aerial photographs are geographically referenced with land features displayed in their true ground position. This allows for the direct measurement of distance and area. Property boundaries are digitized and a computer-generated map is returned to the specialist or cooperator to "pencil-in" the existing resources and facilities. The map is then returned to Tresa for completion.

Once pasture acreages, forage types, soil types, etc., have been determined, more informed management recommendations can be developed for cooperators. Maps are typically used by Agricultural Division specialists and cooperators as a planning tool to determine stocking rates, forage production, forage flow, water availability, prescribed burns and fencing needs. Cross fencing is often planned to separate different forage types, control livestock grazing distribution or establish rotational grazing schemes.

The work of our digital imaging specialist has greatly assisted specialists in making more precise and timely management decisions for cooperators. Specialists can now spend less time mapping and more time consulting.