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Developing a Method for Timely Estimates of Annual Forage Production to Inform Drought Decision Making

Markéta Poděbradská, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Grasslands, the second largest terrestrial biome, provide a myriad of ecosystem services including the provision of food for livestock that millions of people depend on globally. Drought reduces the amount of produced forage affecting the livestock industry, often leading to numerous socioeconomic impacts. Monitoring of seasonal climate and drought impacts on forage production can inform drought decision making of livestock producers, who strive to cope with drought. Most of the drought mitigation actions available to producers need to be done during the growing season before the seasonal forage conditions unfold. Existing seasonal climate forecasts are difficult to interpret and are not easily translated into management strategies. This dissertation aims to develop a framework that would offer livestock producers, land managers, and other decision-makers a within-season decision support tool that can help them to prepare for and mitigate the impacts of drought on forage production. The dissertation is separated into three essays. The first essay is a proof-of-concept case study that tests the use of the ecosystem performance approach to estimate the annual forage production as influenced primarily by site-specific growth conditions and seasonal climate. This approach uses remotely-sensed vegetation greenness to approximate the amount of annual forage and a regression tree model to create a relationship between the forage production, site-specific growth characteristics, and seasonal climate. The second essay investigates the use and application of this modeling method in other semi-arid grasslands of the western U.S. The third essay develops seasonal climate scenarios that are used in the forage production model to provide a range of possible end-of-season forage production estimates within the growing season. This research accomplished the development of a model that accurately estimated forage production for grasslands across the western U.S. The seasonal climate scenarios effectively predicted the annual production within the growing season with the assumption that a correct scenario was selected. This framework can be adapted for an interactive online tool that would inform proactive drought decision making.

Subject Area

Range management|Remote sensing|Ecology|Geographic information science|Water Resources Management|Agriculture|Geology|Climate Change

Recommended Citation

Poděbradská, Markéta, "Developing a Method for Timely Estimates of Annual Forage Production to Inform Drought Decision Making" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI28650380.