Moderate-resolution land imagery (MRLI) is crucial to a more complete assessment of the cumulative, landscape-level effect of agricultural land use and land cover on environmental quality. If this improved assessment yields a net social benefit, then that benefit reflects the value of information (VOI) from MRLI. Environmental quality and the capacity to provide ecosystem services evolve because of human actions, changing natural conditions, and their interaction with natural physical processes. The human actions, in turn, are constrained and redirected by many institutions and regulations such as agricultural, energy, and environmental policies. We present a general framework for bringing together sociologic, biologic, physical, hydrologic, and geologic processes at meaningful scales to interpret environmental implications of MRLI applications. We set out a specific application using MRLI observations to identify crop planting patterns and thus estimate surface management activities that influence groundwater resources over a regional landscape. We tailor the application to the characteristics of nonpoint source groundwater pollution hazards in Iowa to illustrate a general framework in a land use-hydrologic-economic system. In the example, MRLI VOI derives from reducing the risk of both losses to agricultural production and damage to human health and other consequences of contaminated groundwater.
Additional publication details
Estimating the benefits of land imagery in environmental applications: a case study in nonpoint source pollution of groundwater