In the past four decades, irrigated acreage in western Kansas has increased rapidly. Optimum utilization of vital groundwater supplies requires implementation of long-term water-management programs. One important variable in such programs is up-to-date information on acreage under irrigation. Conventional ground survey methods of estimating irrigated acreage are too slow to be of maximum use in water-management programs. Visual interpretation of LANDSAT images permits more rapid measurement of irrigated acreage, but procedures are tedious and still relatively slow. For example, using a LANDSAT false-color composite image in areas of western Kansas with few landmarks, it is impossible to keep track of fields by examination under low-power microscope. Irrigated fields are more easily delineated on a photographically enlarged false-color composite and are traced on an overlay for measurement. Interpretation and measurement required 6 weeks for a four-county (3140 mi2, 8133 km2) test area. Video image-analysis equipment permits rapid measurement of irrigated acreage. Spectral response of irrigated summer crops in western Kansas on MSS band 5 (visible red, 0.6-0.7 ??m) images is low in contrast to high response from harvested and fallow fields and from common soil types. Therefore, irrigated acreage in western Kansas can be uniquely discriminated by video image analysis. The area of irrigated crops in a given area of view is measured directly. Sources of error are small in western Kansas. After preliminary preparation of the images, the time required to measure irrigated acreage was 1 h per county (average area, 876 ml2 or 2269 km2). ?? 1980 Springer-Verlag New York Inc.
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Measurement of irrigated acreage in Western Kansas from LANDSAT images