Date of this Version
The use of GIS in concert with simple or complex simulation modeling provides an unparalleled way to generate new data and to help a variety of audiences understand spatial patterns of data. From improved understanding, policy incentives can be crafted to reduce adverse environmental impacts of agricultural production at lower costs than would be necessary otherwise. In this chapter, two case studies demonstrate how GIS and modeling can be used to understand how crop selection and soils interact to effect environmental outcomes across an agricultural landscape. We addressed the needs of two distinctly different audiences: (1) a public drinking water supplier faced with increasing nitrate in a ground water source and (2) variety of stakeholders involved with planning a new biomass conversion facility to produce renewable fuels from grain or cellulosic feedstock. In both cases, the GIS output documents the benefits of the perennial legume alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) in particular landscape areas, and provides a mechanism to compare alfalfa with corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.).
GIS modeling files are attached (below) in a "zipped" folder (size > 2.8 Gbytes).