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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DISTURBANCE ASSESSMENT AND MITIGATION OF GREAT BASIN RANGELAND

Location: Northwest Watershed Management Research

Title: VegMeasure 2: A software package that facilitates measurement of foliar cove, litter, and bareground on rangelands

Authors
item Johnson, Michael -
item Clark, Patrick
item Louhaichi, Mounir -
item Worz, A -
item Ndzieze, Steven -
item Johnson, Douglas -

Submitted to: Oregon State University Extension Publications
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: November 1, 2009
Publication Date: December 31, 2009
Citation: Johnson, M.D., Clark, P., Louhaichi, M., Worz, A., Ndzieze, S.K., Johnson, D.E. 2009. VegMeasure Z: A software package that facilitates measurement of foliar cove, litter, and bareground on rangelands. Oregon State University Extension Publications. BEEF008:1-10.

Interpretive Summary: One of the most important indicators of rangeland condition and health is the percentage of the soil that is covered and protected from raindrops and overland flow of water by plants and litter. Unfortunately, plant foliar and litter cover is generally not measured but rather estimated by technicians using the quadrat method because quantitative measurement via intercept or point methods is tedious and time consuming. We developed quantitative methods for estimating cover using globally positioned digital imaging coupled with our custom image analysis software package, VegMeasure2. This software and our field protocols provide natural resource management agencies with an objective approach for rapidly collecting rangeland cover data thus promoting management decisions which are based on adequate and valid field data.

Technical Abstract: One of the most important indicators of rangeland condition and health is the percentage of the soil that is covered and protected from raindrops and overland flow of water by plants and litter. Sequential measurements of cover at seasonal or yearly intervals can indicate range trend. Unfortunately, plant foliar and litter cover is generally not measured but rather estimated by technicians using the quadrat method because quantitative measurement via intercept or point methods is tedious and time consuming. Differences in experience and judgment lead to substantial differences in cover estimates between technicians and from one sampling period to the next. We have been developing quantitative methods for estimating cover using globally positioned digital imaging coupled with image analysis for several years and have developed software and protocols that are repeatable and technician independent. These protocols employ a continuously recording Global Positioning System (GPS) device, a digital camera, and a computer to acquire and manage information. Specialized software links an image of the ground to a specific location, rotates and scales the image, and processes it into meaningful classes such as foliar cover, litter, and bare ground. Original images, processed images, track logs, and photo locations are stored on the computer or a DVD for reference and archiving. Because both positioned and processed images are tagged with GPS coordinates, they can be viewed in a Geographical Information System (GIS).

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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