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Topsoil & Agricultural Economic Losses

Map of study area for dataset.

Study area in the Midwestern US with study site locations and extent of analysis. The study area was limited to the spatial extent of LiDAR topographic data (gray hillshade). Squares represent the 28 sites, a total of 210 km2, that were selected for having plowed, bare soil.

Remote Sensing Derived Topsoil and Agricultural Economic Losses, Midwestern USA

This dataset provides estimates of topsoil loss and the economic loss associated with decreased crop productivity at county- and state-levels across the Corn Belt region of the Midwestern USA. Lidar-derived digital elevation models (DEMs) and imagery from NASA's WorldView were used to identify 759 fields where the soil had been plowed (201 km2) in 28 study sites across several midwestern states. Topsoil loss was estimated from the relationship between subsoil exposure and topography then averaged across each site. The relationship between topsoil loss and topographic curvature was used to up-scale and predict topsoil and economic losses at the county- and state- levels across the entire 375,000 km2 area referred to as the Corn Belt. These data demonstrate a robust and scalable method for estimating the magnitude of erosion in agricultural landscapes.

Data Citation: Thaler, E., I. Larsen, and Q. Yu. 2020. Remote Sensing Derived Topsoil and Agricultural Economic Losses, Midwestern USA. ORNL DAAC, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. https://doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1774