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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Extension Program to Broaden Knowledge of Geospatial Technology

March 6, 2002

COLUMBUS, Ohio - From Lake Erie in northern Ohio to Appalachia in the south and farms, wetlands, forests and cities in between, Ohio boasts unique environments that offer the opportunity to use geospatial technology to effectively manage them.

Ohio State University Extension, in collaboration with the NASA Ohio Space Grant Consortium, industry partners and Ohio's academic research community, has established an Ohio Geospatial Extension Program to educate and enhance knowledge about geospatial technologies. Such technologies include remote sensing (aerial and satellite imaging), geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and other data-recording and analysis tools.

"Ohio is unique in there are a large number of different environments where such tools can be useful," said Brian Slater, an Ohio State natural resources researcher. "The program is designed to foster education on the use of such tools to individuals who manage the land - farmers, land managers, local governments, even homeowners." Slater said through the program, individuals would be able to use geospatial technology to study rural-urban fringe issues, manage wetlands and riparian zones, analyze soil quality and crop yield potential, locate environmental landmarks, and position manure waste management facilities based on water quality standards.

"The uses are endless," said Nathan Watermeier, an Ohio State Extension Technology Program Leader. "The combination of GIS and remote-sensing tools can be very accurate when ground-truthed with differential GPS." Watermeier, who has been conducting research using GIS and remote sensing, said the technology has already shown benefits for water management, using bare soil imagery for determining crop management zones, establishing buffer and riparian areas, and managing crop production.

The program, still in its infancy, will officially kick off March 20 with a remote-sensing workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ohio State University Plaza Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. The workshop will cover such topics as applications for remote sensing, image interpretation techniques, overview of data sources and precision agriculture applications. An application has been made for continuing education credits for crop consultants.

Early registration is $20 if paid before March 13. After that date, the fee is $25 and includes materials, lunch and refreshments. For more information and registration log on to

Objectives of the Ohio Geospatial Program are to develop research on geospatial applications for agriculture and natural resources, develop a comprehensive education program, and develop web-based resources for learning and accessing data.

One of the goals is to create a geospatial data and information resource and service laboratory in the School of Natural Resources within Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

"One thing we want to do is work with the USDA in setting up a lab where we can provide digitized county survey maps," said Slater, who heads up a small geospatial lab in the school. "We want it to be a place where people can come and get data - a one-stop shop for resources and information and where people can broaden their technological skills. " For more information on the Ohio Geospatial Program, contact Brian Slater at (614) 292-5891 or or Nathan Watermeier at (614) 688-3442 or

Candace Pollock
Brian Slater, Nathan Watermeier