Watershed Project could save farmers money - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Watershed Project could save farmers money

June 24, 2005

Albany- An airplane and a camera could eventually save farmers and others a lot of money and prove useful in a state water war.

"When we make decisions on water use, in planning for water use they have real economic impacts. And so we need to be aware of what the outcome of our decisions are going to be," said Doug Wilson, Executive Director, Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center.

They're being used by the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center to digitally scan two watershed areas in South Georgia using a special camera.

"Trees, grass fields, we can distinguish between cotton, corn, peanuts any of the major crops," said Marty McKinney, GSI Specialist.

The information gathered is then used to create these maps. The colors on the maps show who is using conservation farming methods and what crop is growing in the field. That information is matched with sensors on the ground to determine how effective those methods are.

"We can determine what crop is planted, and from that we should be able to determine what acres are planted of that crop, so we can get a better evaluation of anything that can be equated to the crop," said McKinney.

The information is then available for anyone who may need it, whether it's the state trying to prove water necessities to another state or for a farmer trying to determine how much water to use on his fields.

"The fewer trips around the field the farmer makes with his irrigation system the better he likes it trust me, they want to do that at the same time they have to maximize yield, so it's all about where's the balance," said Wilson.

This is the first year this information is being gathered, crews started in January and will continue through December.

Eventually the information will allow farmers to go back and compare years of information on specific fields or crops. By the end of August, the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center hopes to have its Website working.

The Website will allow farmers to register their crops and then work with the group to generate information on the lands use.

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