April 16, 2007

GIS, farming, and subsidies

Here's a pretty interesting article from the European Space Agency: Satellite images aid implementation of agricultural reforms

This is one of those applications of remote sensing and GIS that I have mixed feelings about. As a guy sitting at a computer, it's pretty cool, being able to get so much information about a location with just a few mouse clicks.

As a guy with the responsibility of managing 33-odd acres on a shoestring*, as well as complying with several conservation grant programs, there could be a little bit of Big Brother going on. While compliance with the terms of the grant aren't difficult for me (I enjoy working with our local county office), there's always the fear of a bureaucrat with too much time on his hands throwing paperwork at me from the comfort of his desk.

All that said, though, in a time of dwindling conservation budgets, this would be a real time saver for agencies...relying on ArcMap and aerial photos. Keeps them from spending time in the field, though, which for many of them is their favorite part.


(via eurekalert)

*old farmer's joke: "If I had a million dollars, I'd farm until it was all gone"

Posted by rich at April 16, 2007 12:53 PM
Comments

I heard about a similar program a few months back on NPR (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5710986) and remember having the same thoughts. How cool is it that all that information on farms is available! But really, how cool is that? In the NPR story they focus on curbing potential farm subsidy fraud, which by and large is a positive outcome. But like you say, do bureaucrats really need another reason to stay behind their desks? And letís not forget that while GIS is wonderful (it pays my bills) itís still just a representation of the real world.

Posted by: carri at April 16, 2007 02:01 PM

Nice...thanks for the link.

There are some cases of subsidy fraud out there
(http://transectpoints.blogspot.com/2006/02/dry-lab-fraud-alleged.html),
but I think lots of them tend more to be similar to the 'voter fraud' red herring that gets batted around a lot on the slow news cycles. It takes a lot of work to hide practices on the land...more so now with all these images available.

The map is not the territory :)

Rich

Posted by: rich at April 16, 2007 02:32 PM