Measuring rangeland degradation for greater resilience
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Non-destructive, accurate, and more rapid alternatives are urgently needed. One potential alternative, developed by scientists at ICARDA and Oregon State University, uses image processing software to determine rangeland ground cover from color digital images. Twenty tufts of each species were selected for measurement. Canopy cover was estimated using images taken by cameras pointed vertically downwards at a height of 1.25 meters. Clippings were then taken from half of the selected plants, which were dried at 105֯ C for 24 hours, and reweighed to obtain the dry biomass. Results demonstrated a significant correlation between biomass and canopy cover for all three plant species: linear regression relationships were 0.46, 0.90, and 0.69 for A. herba-alba, R. suaveolens and S. tenacissima, respectively. The correlation is an encouraging development for more accurate and less destructive biomass measurements.