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ARS Brownbagger Looks At On-Farm Research Tool For Your Cellphone


February 27, 2019 | View PDF

Citizen science projects, involving ordinary people in scientific data collection efforts, are increasingly common; but now scientists, such as USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Soil Scientist Jeff Herrick, are introducing ways for participants to expand their participation from not just collection, but assessment of data they collect that they can also use for their own needs. One such effort is being featured at a special ARS brownbagger live webinar on Friday, March 1 from noon to 1 pm at the USDA-ARS Northern Plain Agricultural Research Laboratory in Sidney.

Dr. Jeff Herrick will be discussing: “The LandPKS app – a simple tool for planning, monitoring and recordkeeping for farmers, ranchers, extension and scientists” and will be presented as a live webinar at the Sidney ARS lab, located at 1500 N. Central Avenue. His talk will be held in the lab’s Tech Transfer Room from noon to 1 pm and will include a live demonstration of the app. Participants are encouraged to download it on Android or iPhone.

Dr. Herrick will introduce the free Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) app, which provides farmers, ranchers, extension agents and scientists with a simple, and increasingly powerful, tool for data collection, storage and interpretation. “The LandPKS app helps users make more sustainable land management decisions by allowing them to collect geo-located data about their soils and vegetation,” he notes. “It then provides users with information about their site.”

The current version includes a number of features including a simple (yardstick-based) vegetation monitoring system that generates (and automatically graphs) indicators that can be compared directly with those collected nationally by the NRCS and BLM. A new version (due late March) will predict the soil based on location and user inputs and provide direct access to NRCS Soil Survey information. The new version also includes a “LandManagement” module for basic on-farm recordkeeping. Future versions (late 2019) will allow users to limit access to their data to themselves, or share it selectively.

LandPKS is led by the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range in Las Cruces, NM in cooperation with the University of Colorado and New Mexico State University together with a large number of collaborators in the US and globally.

Dr. Herrick is a Soil Scientist with USDA-ARS in Las Cruces, NM. He has published widely on a variety of topics including rangeland soil health, restoration, simple tools for rangeland soil and vegetation monitoring, soil health, and strategies for applying resilience to management. He serves as an external member of the BLM’s National Science Committee, is a member of the International Resource Panel and serves as the US science representative to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Dr. Herrick led the development of the nationally (US) applied rangeland monitoring protocols, and co-led the development of the national rangeland assessment system, both of which have been adapted for use in a number of other countries. He currently leads development of the global Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS), a mobile app for land use planning and management.

NPARL invites all interested persons to join us for this very enlightening presentation at noon this Friday, Feb. 15. Bring your lunch; we’ll provide the dessert!

In addition to Dr. Herrick, other upcoming speakers scheduled to date for NPARL’s 2019 BrownBagger season include:

Mar. 22 – Mark Leibig, Research Soil Scientist, USDA-ARS, Mandan, ND (topic: soil acidification and more)

Apr. 5 – Bruce Maxwell, Co-Director, Montana Institute on Ecosystems, Montana State University-Bozeman (topic: agricultural adaptation to climate change)

Note: all days listed are Fridays and all presentations begin at noon in the Tech Transfer Room at the Sidney ARS lab. For questions or more information on Sidney ARS’ 2019 BrownBaggers, contact Beth Redlin at 406-433-9427 or [email protected]


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