Members of the Land Use/Land Cover mapping team visit a biofuels plant near Garnett, KS.


Mapping Tool Developed for Research on Crop Decisions

Project PI: Dietrich Earnhart, Department of Economics, University of Kansas

A group of Kansas scientists is leading research on Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers’ Land Use Decisions (or BACC:FLUD), which is one of four inter-related projects within the Climate Change and Renewable Energy initiative.

Finney County, KS (stars represent biofuel plants.)     All Crops

The scientists represent many disciplines, including economics, geography, anthropology, biology and environmental engineering. They are assessing how farmers make cultivation choices and will all rely on a mapping tool developed during the project’s first year: a novel dataset that documents land-use and land-cover (LULC) over the entire state of Kansas.

The level of detail in this new dataset is unprecedented, both in space (field level) and time (annual maps will span the years 2000 through 2014).

Irrigation Status

This detail allows the land-use and land-cover data to be applied to the scales of other datasets being developed by many research disciplines on the project.

Water quality specialists, for example, can integrate the LULC data with watershed-level models predicting how changes in crops or conservation methods can impact water quality in reservoirs.

Climate specialists will use the LULC data to define the various biophysical qualities of the earth’s surface as they run climate models to depict the affect of climate change on Kansas agriculture.

Changing biofuel status

Social scientists will use the data to help them define which areas within counties should be targeted for surveys and interviews.

As illustrated by the maps on the right, researchers can explore the possibility of developing models to predict the effects of biofuel plant establishment on surrounding cropping practices.

For more details and maps, see


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