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Agriculture

Using Drones to Advance Turfgrass Science at Green-Wood Cemetery

Last month, Blue Raster’s drone capabilities took flight. In a new initiative with Green-Wood Cemetery, Cornell University, and a group of turfgrass experts from across the United States, Blue Raster is using drones to help advance the science for confronting climate change in an urban landscape.

The issue at hand is the rapid spread of warm-season invasive grass species that impacts the aesthetics of the cemetery. This results in adaptive preventative maintenance practices and high costs to keep the cemetery looking beautiful. The group is studying alternatives and strategies that put Green-Wood on the cutting edge of urban climate change mitigation. This research is also applicable to any urban parks, public gardens, cemeteries and golf courses.

"Turf Guy" Dr. Frank Rossi of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and Christopher Gabris from Blue Raster looking at high resolution drone imagery captured the day before

“Turf Guy” Dr. Frank Rossi of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and Christopher Gabris from Blue Raster looking at high resolution drone imagery captured the day before

To study the spread of invasive grass throughout the year, Blue Raster flew a series of drone missions over the sprawling 478 acre cemetery. When additional missions fly for comparison, the data capture will provide high quality imagery that will identify invasive grass for measurement and monitoring throughout the year. Visit our Facebook album for more of the amazing aerial pictures.

Green-wood drone pictures

Using Esri’s Drone2Map and ArcGIS Online Web Scenes, Blue Raster was also able to deliver some 3D products, including the iconic gateway entrance and some large mausoleums.

Drone 3D imagery of iconic entrance

Stay tuned for updates on the project, the analysis, and the results of this very exciting turfgrass study!

Blue Raster attends the American Public Gardens Association Annual Conference

Blue Raster works with multiple public gardens and arboreta to develop web and mobile applications. These apps help to interactively map robust plant collections for the public, and provide workflows for internal facility and maintenance teams to work more efficiently.

This June, Blue Raster was a presenter at the American Public Gardens Association’s annual conference. Presenting alongside the Alliance for Public Gardens GIS, the presentation focused on Enterprise Configurations and GIS solutions for public gardens. Blue Raster was proud to present our recent work with the U.S. National Arboretum and the development of their mobile application, as well as automated field mobility workflows for plant maintenance and monument restoration tasks at Green-Wood Cemetery.

APGA Conference photo

APGA Conference photo

Hosted at the Disneyland Hotel in Southern California, the conference was a great opportunity to see how public gardens across the world are uniquely attracting visitors, storing their plant data and historic records, and collaborating with each other. A special behind-the-scenes tour with Disneyland arborists and a trip to The Getty Museum in Los Angeles were just some of the amazing events during the week.

Is your garden interested in mapping your plant collections? Do you want to take your visitor experience to the next level with a mobile application? Blue Raster is experienced with plant data and workflows. Each project is custom-designed to fit your specific needs. Learn more about our workflows how we can help you.

APGA Conference photo

Mapping for a World Without Malnutrition

Driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Blue Raster worked to release the latest version of the Malnutrition Mapping Project (MalMap). This interactive mapping application provides mapping and analysis tools for multiple stressors of malnutrition. From start to finish, users can explore factors that enable malnutrition such as poverty levels and population density, access to basic water, and development outcomes such as percentages of deaths due to diabetes and rates of low birth weight.

The expansion of this project includes the addition of 33 new indicators, and a comprehensive update to the existing 40 indicators. Not only can you display and compare these indicators worldwide, but users can analyze these variables to see which countries are exceeding set thresholds for each indicator. The analysis allows users to also focus in on which countries are exceeding a set threshold for all the indicators, with no limit on the number of indicators that can be cross compared. This allows stakeholders to drill down into the data like never before and focus on directing aid and funding where there is most need.

All of the data in this application is hosted on ArcGIS Online, a scalable cloud-based platform that allows for future expansion of the maps.  The framework for the application was upgraded to the latest React providing a clean, easy-to-navigate interface.

 

 

Solving the Water Balance Equation for California

Drought has been a significant concern throughout much of the western U.S., threatening the livelihood of farmers and communities across several states. When years of drought stretch on, groundwater pumping often becomes the most viable option for the agriculture sector, leading to a negative water-balance and increasingly sparse water availability. Local water authorities are scrambling to recharge the groundwater supplies for their districts’ agricultural needs.

Fortunately, a new tool for their arsenal is now available – the Groundwater Recharge Assessment Tool (GRAT), developed in partnership with The Earth Genome and Sustainable Conservation. Through a prioritized use of dedicated recharge basins, fallow field recharge, and on-farm recharge sites, it may be possible to balance the water budget and reverse the damage caused by years of over-pumping. On-farm recharge is a relatively new approach and requires an understanding of what crops are being grown, and how flood-year waters could be applied during select weeks of the year when high-flow water is available. Currently much of that water runs off the landscape and eventually into the ocean, but on-farm recharge may provide the key to capturing that water by recharging underlying aquifers.

To calculate the best use of on-farm recharge and the impact on the water budget, GRAT allows irrigation districts to run an unlimited number of wet-year scenarios, ranking of field types based on soil and crop characteristics, and detailed cost calculations.

Setting detailed criteria requirements helps to optimize the selection of sites based on an irrigation district’s individual needs. Weighted indexes are calculated dynamically using a number of geophysical variables linked to each criteria.

GRAT allows the automated selection of sites up to a target recharge volume or cost ceiling, and then the manual removal or selection of additional sites based on local expert knowledge.

Advanced, dynamic charting gives real-time updates of groundwater balance and estimated costs based on selected sites. Once the balance has been reached, the option to save the plan can be used to share results with decision makers throughout the district.

GRAT was co-created in collaboration with Madera Irrigation District and Tulare Irrigation District.  It is also now being rolled out to other interested Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) in California, to support their Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) reporting requirements.

 

Integrating Field GIS at Green-Wood Cemetery

At Green-Wood Cemetery, staff are working to phase out paper forms for Field GIS applications. Using Collector and Workforce for ArcGIS, Green-Wood is streamlining work order assignment and management for plant collections and monument restoration.

Located in Brooklyn, New York, Green-Wood is one of the first rural cemeteries in America. Founded in 1838, the site is a National Historic Landmark and an accredited arboretum that attracts over 500,000 visitors annually. Green-Wood is also massive, spanning 478 acres and containing over 560,000 “permanent residents” and well over 7,000 trees.

It is essential to keep Green-Wood looking spectacular for visitors, but managing the volume of work orders over so much space can be challenging. With help from Alliance for Public Gardens GIS (APGG) and Blue Raster, Green-Wood is swapping paper forms for Field GIS mobile applications to create, assign and manage work orders. Using the latest Esri technology, including ArcGIS Enterprise 10.5.1 and Portal for ArcGIS, the team imported and configured plant center and monument locations into the Parks and Gardens Information Model and hosting it in the Cloud.

Using Collector for ArcGIS, Green-Wood staff can now create work orders in the field on a mobile device. Blue Raster configured a python script using the Esri REST API to push data from Collector to Workforce for ArcGIS every 15 minutes. A dispatcher can then assign tasks to field crews, using the mobile version of Workforce for ArcGIS to manage their assignments.

Finally, Blue Raster configured a real-time operations view for both plant maintenance and monument restoration using Esri’s Operations Dashboard. These dashboards will allow for management to quickly see key metrics, including the total number work orders, and work orders by team or type.

“In streamlining our work order system, Blue Raster provided a game-changing landscape management platform for both our horticulture and restoration departments. With the Operations Dashboard, we now have the data to measure performance and the real-time analytics that provide insight into best management practices at our historic site. Working with the Blue Raster team was a terrific experience: they were responsive, engaged, and committed—all you could ask for in a collaborator.”  

– Joseph Charap, Director of Horticulture and Curator, Green-Wood