Observing Global Croplands from Space

For February 21, 2018

Hi WN@TL Fans,

One of the most impressive scientific outcomes of the Lewis & Clark Expedition was the hand-drawn, hand-annotated map William Clark made in 1810 of part of the continent of North America, especially the Missouri and Columbia River basins.

That map was the bedrock for this printed version produced in 1814.

Clark’s 1810 map shows where the Corps of Discovery overwintered from early November 1804 to April 7, 1805, at “Fort Mandan”, among five villages, two Mandan and three Hidatsa. While we often think of the natives as hunters of buffalo, they were also farmers:  during the winter, the Corps traded with them for vegetables.

A good part of the Missouri River basin is now part of the great wheat belt and corn belt (shall we call it a Grain Belt?) of North America.  The vegetable gardens of the Mandan don’t show up on Clark’s map, but they were the seedbeds of crop production in the Plains.
This week (February 21)  Mutlu Ozdogan of Forest & Wildlife Ecology will give us his global perspectives on how to map the world’s croplands.

He’ll show us how he & his colleagues are redefining the ways we chart our amber waves of grain, here in the US and all around the world.

His point of view isn’t from the seat of a canoe on a river, but from satellites in orbit.
Here’s how Prof Özdoğan describes his talk, entitled “Observing Global Croplands from Space.”
Özdoğan’s talk will focus on new developments that are aimed at monitoring crops from space, such as worldwide, field-level crop-type mapping efforts that are part of a five-year NASA-funded project. Other examples will focus on Wisconsin and the Midwest, addressing ways to extract more refined agricultural information such as crop-management practices from satellites. This presentation will span a wide range of interests, from global change to food security to farm-level management. You won’t want to miss this learning opportunity!

About the Speaker

Özdoğan is a geographer and environmental scientist with 15 years of experience in remote-sensing applications in agriculture and forestry. He earned his doctorate at Boston University, completed his postdoctoral training at NASA, and now is on the faculty at the UW. Some examples of his work include mapping irrigated areas in the United States, updating the land-cover map of Wisconsin in collaboration with the state’s Department of Natural Resources, and researching the effects of climate change on crop yields and water availability in the Middle East.


Maps help us envision our world and track our travels.  They can also help us trace the evolution of crops and of livestock.  Next week, we get to go on an expedition with Mark Berres of the Biotech Center as he goes in search of the evolutionary origins of the chicken.  Expect the unexpected.

Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab!

Thanks again,Tom Zinnen
UW-Madison and UW-Extension