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A Guide to the Practical Use of Aerial Color-infrared Photography in Agriculture

Agricultural Applications of Color-infrared Film

Rangeland

Fig. 19 - Variations in vegetation density in the Nebraska Sand Hills, Garden County. The darkest red tones on this photo are associated with heavily vegetated marshes and wet meadows (H); medium reds depict rangeland areas with moderately dense grasses (M); and very light reddish-pink areas represent sparse vegetative communities (S). White areas are deflation hollows (blowouts) with no vegetative cover (N). Notice both the fenceline contrasts (F) and the various tonal signatures exhibited by the lakes.

The quality of rangeland and pastureland can be monitored and evaluated at regular intervals with ease by using aerial CIR photos. Because the film is recording the density of the vegetative canopy (or biomass), the CIR film signature for grassland areas is especially useful from a management standpoint. Overgrazing causes stress on rangeland grasses, and its CIR signature contrasts with the more vigorously growing pastures (fig. 19). Areas where the vegetation has either been reduced to a dangerous level or removed completely can be identified quickly.