Conservation Planning

Development of a Comprehensive Conservation Farm Plan for the MAFES Dairy unit as a Pilot for Future Research


Comprehensive Conservation Farm Planning has been identified as a goal of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Conservation planning is a natural resource problem solving and management process. The process involves the identification of problems, opportunities and objectives, a resource inventory and analysis, the formulation of design alternatives, and ultimately management decisions. The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) has identified their Dairy Unit near Sessums, MS as an entity that could benefit from a comprehensive Conservation Plan. The Dairy Unit has the potential to be a test case for a research program that would develop Conservation Plans for other MAFES units in the state and aid in the production of tools for use by farmers throughout the state of Mississippi. In particular, we aim to develop technology for distribution that would model the effectiveness of agricultural best management practices used in conservation design. A secondary research goal is to survey farmers in the state to determine their technological abilities and needs in developing Conservation Plans. A third goal is to determine the role of landscape architecture in the conservation planning process.


The following items summarize the tasks that will be undertaken to generate the Dairy Unit Conservation Plan.

  • Generation of base maps
  • Gathering of available GIS data for initial ArcView database
  • Consultation with Dairy Unit managers
  • Inclusion of existing data from Dairy Unit into ArcView database
  • Description of current conditions of Catalpa Creek and its tributaries on Dairy Unit property
  • Formulation of long-term water sampling plan for Catalpa Creek and its tributaries on Dairy Unit property
  • Long-term water quality monitoring
  • Hydrologic modeling of proposed conservation practices
  • Develop a Draft Conservation Plan for consideration by MAFES administration
Goals for Future Research

The application of technology in the conservation planning process is an ever-evolving topic of research for land planners. A group of researchers from the Forest and Wildlife Research Center and the Departments of Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Agricultural and Biological Engineering are developing a program that integrates hydrologic modeling and Best Management Practice design, called Latis. Latis has so far been aimed at helping developers implement Low Impact Development (LID) strategies into their site designs. However, agricultural applications are a natural extension of this body of work. The modeling process evaluates design alternatives for their effectiveness in maintaining and improving water quality. This technology can help farm managers make informed land use decisions where conservation of natural resources is concerned. This project represents a trial of Latis in an agricultural setting. We hope to test the model in other agricultural settings, and potentially at larger scales where numerous land uses are involved.


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Department of Landscape Architecture
Box 9725
Mississippi State University, MS 39762