Ag and Natural Resources
GRI is using remote sensing and hyperspectral imagery among other technologies to develop research activities in the different sectors of agriculture and natural resource management. GRI researchers examine areas such as invasive species, agri-terrorism, site-specific crop management, and the strengthening of our rivers’ levee systems.

Aquatic Invasive Species- Habitat Suitability Modeling
GRI researchers are using Habitat Suitability Modeling which uses computer algorithms to manipulate data that create models to predict, control and narrow the expansive search area required for detection of new non-native species of likely avenues for the spread of existing plant populations. Researchers have found four ways to control aquatic invasive species. They include chemical, biological, physical and mechanical methods. These methods can control or eradicate invasive plant species in an area.
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Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network (CMDMN)
This website details the CMDMN program which relies on volunteers to monitor cactus populations and report observations. This is the first step of an Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) approach. The data will be used to support modeling efforts to better predict likely locations for new pricklypear cactus and cactus moth and help guide surveys.
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Coastal Ocean Color Trade Study
GRI scientists have created a system of unique data sets to enable a better understanding of environmental processes that occur in coastal environments. Coastal and inland waters and their environments were targeted for the initial mission due to their importance to various aspects of human activity and the inability of current systems to accurately sense these unique environments. This mission works in support of the planned GEO-CAPE satellite mission that monitors these environments and is critical for evaluating and understanding the spatial variations and dynamics associated with coastal environments.
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Corn crop density assessment using texture analysis on visible imagery collected using unmanned aerial vehicles
Determining corn crop density on a large field is of tremendous value to monitor plant health and damages caused by hogs and deer. Texture modelling techniques are investigated to map three different densities (Low, Medium and High) on a corn field by using visible imagery collected using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
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Cost Effective BMPs for Resilient Communities
This project developed a tool that will enable the development industry to design and build more resilient and sustainable communities through the inclusion of BMPs (Best Management Practices) in new commercial and residential construction.
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Detecting Aflatoxin using Hyperspectral Imaging
Hyperspectral imaging is a way of seeing what is invisible to the human eye. GRI researchers are using this to detect biological and chemical toxins that contaminate crops. This is done by splitting the electromagnetic spectrum into many spectral bands, which expose hidden information invisible to the natural eye. The specific contaminant being studied is a fungal metabolite called aflatoxin. This lethal toxin is produced by a fungus called Aspergillus. It is a known carcinogen associated with liver and lung cancers in humans. Many external stresses cause the fungi to react but hot and humid weather conditions increase its production of aflatoxin that invades corn and other commodities. The goal is to help improve detection and accuracy.
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Detection of Plant Parasitic Nematodes and Host Gene Expression Using Hyperspectral Reflectance and Management with VRT Applications
The objectives of this research include detecting spectral and directional reflectance of plants known to be infected with reniform nematode, correlating this data to hyperspectral reflectance data from actual field populations, initiating studies to detect nematode presence in other agricultural crops, and developing and evaluating liquid and granular variable rate nematicide applications. Development of nematode detection and variable rate technology systems for control of nematode populations would result in increased efficiency, higher profits, and optimized crop production with minimum input of nematicides and reduced environmental impacts.
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Developing a Foundation for Analysis of Natural and Human-Induced Disturbances to Coastal Economies
This project focuses on the relationship between people and the ecosystems, resources, and hazards of the Gulf Coast. Because almost all human decisions are dependent on time, uncertainty (risk), cost, and expected benefits, this project can shed light on how the choices of coastal residents, businesses, and other entities are influenced by those characteristics unique to the coast. Furthermore, because economic analysis is always geared toward understanding the value of things and how these values influence decisions, this project will provide a wide range of cost and benefit estimates that can be utilized by decision-makers at all levels to make choices that improve the quality of life along the Northern Gulf Coast.
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Developing New Strategies for Management of Invasive Aquatic Plants
GRI is developing new strategies for the management of invasive aquatic plants through research at our mesocosm tank facility on the campus of Mississippi State University. We are evaluating new aquatic herbicides, combinations of existing aquatic herbicides, and applying management techniques based on a new understanding of plant species life history. These projects may be proprietary; and funded by private industry, federal, state, and local government agencies, and nonprofit foundations.
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Development and Validation of Geospatial Tools to Optimize Implementation of Precision Conservation
Conservation programs under the Farm Bill provide economic incentives for agricultural producers to divert marginally profitable land from production to targeted conservation practices. The adoption of conservation practices may depend on the profitability of program participation, relative to full production. Spatially explicit yield data, combined with production budgets, commodity prices, and program eligibility criteria can inform producers regarding the economical optimality of production vs. conservation. The objectives of this research are to develop decision support tools within ArcGIS that identify opportunities for implementation of conservation programs on agricultural landscapes, measure profitability of alternative programmatic enrollments vs. whole field production, and predict wildlife population benefits of these alternatives. This research will help producers to make informed economic decisions regarding land usage for conservation programs and crop production, benefiting both the farmer and native wildlife.
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Distribution and Management of Invasive Plant Species in the Ross Barnett Reservoir
The objectives of this research is to monitor and map invasive aquatic plant populations. Long term changes are recorded in the plant community of the Ross Barnett Reservoir and the management effectiveness of certain invasive plant species is assessed.
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Earth Dams and Levees (EDLs) Sustainability
Research in using remote sensing to improve earth dam and levee sustainability has the potential to affect tens of millions of people who live or work behind levee-protected areas. MSU/GRI researchers in an international partnership are conducting research on multi-scale monitoring science to enable a sustainable future for the vast worldwide array of earth dam and levees. The research examines EDL critical infrastructure that provides flood protection, fresh water storage and renewable energy to developed and underdeveloped nations. This project is currently in year two and uses polarimetric and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to examine earth deformations at a very small scale.
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Effects of Variation in Sweetpotato Development, Yield, and Quality
The field variability associated with sweetpotato growth habit presents a unique opportunity to use site-specific crop management techniques to accurately pinpoint best-growth implement practices for sweetpotatoes in individual fields. The objectives of this research are to use remotely sensed and ground-truthed data to construct maps that describe field variability, identify critical parameters that affect growth and development of sweetpotatoes, and investigate crop response to various producer inputs developed in management zones. The collection of these data will help validate a sensor-driven model-based decision support and risk tool that can be utilized by producers.
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Enhanced Soils Mapping For Productive Capacity Assessments
This research uses geospatial technologies to create methodology used in defining soil management zones that address soil variability in distinct areas and identify the soil properties that limit crop production while increasing soil conservation. Determining appropriate soil management zones can lead to an increased profit by either increasing yield in areas of fields that are being underutilized or decreasing fertilization in areas of fields where maximum economic yield has already been attained. Moreover, robust and repeatable methodology for construction of management zones will provide an empirical basis for developing variable rate fertilizer prescriptions that optimize profitability and minimize off-site nutrient transport, thereby benefiting the producer, the public, and the environment.
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Evaluation of Geospatial Tools to Map Dispersal of Invasive Aquatic Plants in Agroecosystems
This study validates new techniques of mapping and tracking the distribution and transport of invasive aquatic plants by using remote sensing technology to map known locations of these plants, sampling dispersal rates under normal and stormy weather conditions and modeling the output using ArcPro, and comparing these rates to those already recorded through GPS tracking. Gaining an understanding of how invasive aquatic weeds disperse through agricultural areas and creating a tool to reduce the negative effects these weeds have on agronomic crops is vital for the improvement in crop yields and the management of unwanted weed species invading otherwise healthy ecosystems.
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GIS for Aquatic Plant Management
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have become the new tool for information management, planning and presentation for invasive aquatic plant management programs and is critical in every component of the program.
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Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GCPO LCC)
GRI has partnered with the GCPO LCC to provide critical LCC research and computing capacity for LCC activities. As a research hub for the GCPO LCC, GRI has established over $4 million in cooperative agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to fund more than 20 different LCC research projects. This diverse research program includes exploration of ecosystem health, resilience to climate change and urbanization and interrelationships among species and their habitats.
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Health and Productivity of Louisiana Salt Marshes
This study will allow the identification of hotspots of marsh degradation in Louisiana by evaluating marsh biophysical characteristics including distribution of chlorophyll content, green leaf area and green marsh canopy cover. This assessment of marsh health and productivity is due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) satellite images will be used to retrieve and map these characteristics across the coastal Louisiana salt marshes before and after the spill. The maps and tools produced from the study will be helpful to coastal managers across Louisiana as they evaluate and prioritize the marsh restoration effort which will take place due to the oil spill. Tangible map products will be generated for the first time that can quantitatively assess the effect of the restoration activities and speed of marsh ecosystem recovery.
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Integrated Pest Management Systems and Resistance Management Using Geospatial Technologies
This research has evaluated the use of remote sensing technologies to detect and predict spatial distribution of weed populations for the purpose of designing site-specific herbicide prescriptions and monitoring the spread of herbicide resistant weed species. Associated spatial technologies have been used to generate guidelines for creation of site-specific harvest-aid, plant growth regulator, and insecticide prescriptions. A unique contribution of this research has been the development of novel statistical models that more fully characterize geographic, topographic, hydrological, edaphic, and producer-induced sources of variation in yield than previously understood. The research also highlights the immense complexity of spatial data collection, management, geoprocessing, and integration for decision support in site-specific agriculture. Outcomes of this study may increase efficiency and profitability, reduce the threat of off-target movement of residual herbicides in runoff to surface and groundwater, and reduce herbicide usage through precision applications.
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Invasive Species Program
GRI researchers actively study invasive plants that take over agricultural and natural areas, with expertise for studies ranging from regional impacts through use of remote sensing and GIS, to cellular and molecular studies of plant uptake, and genetic composition. GRI brings together multidisciplinary research teams comprised of university and government researchers to address diverse questions on the management of invasive species.
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IPAMS - Invasive Plant Atlas of the MidSouth
The Invasive Plant Atlas of the Mid-South (IPAMS) is an integrated research and extension project to develop an invasive plant program for the Mid-South states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Research activities include conducting systematic regional vegetation surveys to assess the distribution of key invasive plants, developing models for predicting the occurrence of target species based on land use and cover, and evaluating the relative effectiveness of professional versus volunteer surveys.
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Linking Cultural, Biological and Economic Values into Wetland Programs: Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians' Pearl River Wetland Demonstration Project
This project aims to develop procedures for more reliably regenerating rivercane and for planting potential restoration sites in the Coastal Plain, and for maintenance of stands for cultural use by native peoples. We are assessing ecological factors associated with the establishment and maintenance of rivercane stands, developing methods for vegetative propagation of rivercane from rhizome segments, and attempting to transfer our findings directly to the Choctaw and other American Indian groups through local and regional symposia, workshops, and field days.
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Nitrogen Management for Corn and Cotton in Mississippi Utilizing Advanced Technologies to Solve Spatial and Random Variances
The use of nitrogen based fertilizers to optimize plant growth is an essential component of modern crop production and has contributed to the astounding increase in yield produced by the American farming sector. Current nitrogen rate recommendations are based on a variety of environmental factors in specific regions and fertilizer is normally applied at a single rate to an entire crop production area. The objectives of this research are to: 1) understand spatial variation in crop growth and yield and their relationship to physical and fertility properties of soil; and 2) use ground- based reflectance sensors, coupled with in-season plant measurements to predict nitrogen levels in target crops in an effort to develop nitrogen management zones to guide variable rate, site specific nitrogen applications that optimize nitrogen utilization and efficiency. The use of variable-rate could decrease total amount of nitrogen being applied in crop production and more efficiently promote plant growth and development across an entire growing area.
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Providing Accurate Data for Field Monitoring of Peanut Production
Reliable yield monitors have been developed for a variety of crops including corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton. Due to the nature of harvesting and threshing peanuts, however, the ability to provide accurate yield data has been rudimentary, at best. The objective of this research is to use a system for yield measurement previously developed at Mississippi State University and commercialized through MSTX Agricultural Sensor Technologies (MAST), LLC to compare management zones, buy-point and field weights from adjusted and raw yield data in peanuts. The results of this study will potentially allow peanut producers to evaluate inputs, manage pests, make better land-use decisions and perform economic analysis in peanut production.
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Research to Support Integrated Management Systems of Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Species and Bioinformatics
GRI is coordinating a multidisciplinary, multi-year research and outreach project with the U.S. Geological Survey Invasive Species Program and the National Biological Information Infrastructure to develop research and biological information products on aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, centered in the MidSouth region. We are developing directed, peer-reviewed research and informatics tools to enhance the management of invasive species: aquatic invasive plants, developing an integrated National Early Detection and Rapid Response Web site, research on the renegade biological control agent, cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum), continued support of the Invasive Plant Atlas of the Mid-South (IPAMS), and the development of biological informatics resources in the areas of invasive species and pollinators.
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Site Specific Technologies
GRI's New Satellite and Computer-Based Technology for Agriculture (NSCTA) project is to investigate site-specific technologies as they pertain to natural resource management, precision farming, agribusiness, and decision making in agriculture. The project develops research activities in an effort to produce new knowledge concerning applications of these technologies in Mississippi and the nation.
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Spatial Detection of Agri-terrorism
This GRI project develops and deploys an automated target recognition system that utilizes hyperspectral imagery to detect biological or chemical contamination of vegetation. The Automated Target Recognition - ATR - system is applied to the problem of BioSecurity, i.e. the detection of crop contamination via biological or chemical agents.
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The Use of Early Detection and Rapid Response Protocol for the Control of Waterlettuce
Waterlettuce was identified growing in a small area of an impoundment (Powe Pond) located in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology, and Economic Development Park, Starkville, MS. As a result of this, a study was conducted to eradicate the waterlettuce population in the pond and survey and eradicate any plants that had escaped into the outflow creek using aquatic labeled herbicides.
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UAS with MicroSense RedEdge Payload Help Monitor and Manage Forest Resortation
Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) carry a multispectral senor that produce images that provides biologist and geographic information system specialists with changes in the woodlands and vegetation in almost real time. These systems also show the density and regrowth of woodland, marsh, and coastal areas. Mississippi State University’s Geosystems Research Institute is assisting the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR) and the U.S. Forestry Service with surveying the 4,200 acres that were burned during a large wildfire that reaches from southeast Jackson County into Alabama. These experts utilized the Altavian Nova Block III to inspect the area from 1,000 feet, and they deployed the MicaSense RedEdge. The MicaSense RedEdge has the ability to sense energy at five different wavelengths. Two of the five wavelengths exceed our vision in the Near Infrared Region (NIR) of the electromagnetic spectrum. The senor provides researchers with accurate data that projects the status of vegetation and stress of areas within the ecosystem. With this knowledge, researchers and specialists can aid in the revegetation of the burned woodlands and marsh of the GBNERR, the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge and neighboring lands.

UAS Research
GRI researchers are working to incorporate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in site-specific agricultural research. MSU currently holds certificates of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate UAVs for research purposes only. The research looks at plant growth, nutrient management, irrigation and herbicide application.
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Unmanned Aerial Systems
GRI scientists are researching the effective use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned surface vehicles (USV's) commonly referred to as drones, in how they can be used safely to assess crops, evaluate woodlands, conduct wildlife surveys, gauge river flow and monitor the Gulf of Mexico environmental health and watershed, as well as helping NOAA increase the accuracy of severe weather forecasts. These unmanned aerial and surface/water systems use remote sensing, global positioning--and geographic information systems to collect and analyze sites specific data that farmers, foresters, wildlife rangers, oceanographers and marine scientists can use to create and apply effective prescriptions for every inch of an agricultural field, ocean, river, forest and wildlife management areas.

Weather Research and Forecasting Modeling System
This research includes assimilation of NEXRAD radial winds in a regional mesoscale model and the use of Lagrangian models to estimate the transport and dispersion of gasses/particles over the Southeastern United States. It is our plan to provide daily plume (smoke) forecast information, as well as atmospheric wind and other conditions over the Gulf coast. Therefore, the information can be used to assess how the smoke due to burning oil over the Gulf of Mexico propagates in time.
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WISDOM - Weather In-Situ Deployment Optimization Method
GRI scientists and students are participating in WISDOM, the Weather In-Situ Deployment Optimization Method research program that seeks to improve hurricane forecasting time by three to seven days before a storm's landfall by providing wind and atmospheric data in areas of the Atlantic basin that are poorly observed. The WISDOM program launches small super-pressure balloons with payloads that include GPS and satellite radio communications capabilities.
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Modified: May 17, 2016  •  WebMaster  •  Intranet