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New Apps Help Balance Productivity With Conservation

The suite of Land-Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) apps help farmers and land managers balance productivity with conservation. The apps identify and deliver information about specific soils to your smartphone, says Jeff Herrick, a soil scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 

According to Herrick, LandPKS combines cloud computing, digital soil-mapping data, and the global positioning system (GPS) to provide information about the sustainable potential of land under current and future climates. It includes the LandInfo and LandCover modules and was developed by Herrick and his collaborators to help farmers and land managers tackle the unique challenges they face in feeding a growing population while still protecting the soil, water, and other natural resources.

The LandInfo module allows the user to collect soil- and site-specific topographic data. The LandCover module documents ground cover, vegetation height, plant density, and spatial patterns of vegetation affecting soil erosion. According to Herrick, the information will be stored in a centralized, open-access database and will become part of a data system that, in the future, will identify management options for sites having similar topography, soils, and climatic conditions.

The free app is available at LandPotential.org, the Google Playstore, and the iTunes App Store.

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