Ground cover provides the protective layer of living and decaying plant material on the soil surface. Farmers and graziers impact on ground cover through their daily management. Management practices that reduce ground cover degrade the soil and water assets that support agricultural production and biodiversity. Programs that achieve adoption of practices that maintain or improve ground cover can be expected to provide a high return on investments.
ACLUMP State and Territory partners are developing nationally consistent land management practice mapping based on characteristic patterns of ground cover in agricultural systems. Towards this end, ACLUMP have:
assessed the suitability of existing monitoring sites for use in a national network of sites to measure fractional cover according to the Queensland Statewide Landcover and Trees Study's (SLATS) modified discrete point sampling method - the approach endorsed by all jurisdictions, and
held a workshop to assess remote sensing products to report change in ground cover management under agricultural land uses nationally. Outputs from this workshop included; a background paper, workshop proceedings "Developing national protocols to map ground cover management in cropping and grazing systems (2010)", a conference paper and poster.
To detect and monitor land management practices impacting ground cover, ACLUMP recommend using a fractional cover remotely sensed product. The selected product will need standardised on-ground measurements for calibration and validation, and an assessment of its accuracy to estimate fractional cover, particularly in cropping areas.
National ground cover monitoring is currently underway supported by Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and Caring for our Country focusing initially on the rangelands using a MODIS-based fractional cover product.