This Perennial Land

A restorative agriculture is about location: farming suited to the capacities of the land under one’s feet, but with an eye to the consequences beyond the property line. That means preserving what’s left of the old, naturally functioning landscape and putting plants — both annuals and perennials — and animals on the land that improve soil and water quality, reduce erosion and rebuild the multiple pathways through which water, energy, and nutrients used to cycle, enabling the land to repair and renew itself.

For that we need a map. But not just any map. We need a map that can tell us at a glance where and what all those features — those opportunities — are on the current farming landscape.  In 2004 we began collecting and combining digitized natural resource and land cover data from a wide range of federal, state and local sources to create a multi-layered GIS mapping program.

You can check it out by clicking on the links below.

Elements of a restorative landscape: see what we have to work with

The Watershed View

See how the map "works" for a single watershed.  Our example is the 2.3 million acre greater Blue Earth watershed in north central Iowa and south central Minnesota.  Click on the link to the map image. Moving your cursor over the items on the map legend will reveal short explanations about the importance of each landscape feature to restoring ecological function to the land.  By moving the cursor over the watershed map, you can zoom in for a closer look, and depending on where you direct the cursor, you'll be able to move across the map.  The map shows where "opportunity" lands are located for planting perennials, storing and slowing water, or building wildlife corridors. View the map

The State View

For a statewide view, we added an interactive element that lets you add and remove data layers as you wish.  Click on the state image to go to an interactive map of Minnesota.  By following the simple directions you will be able to zoom in to any place in any watershed in the state.  By clicking on the checkboxes on the left you can add or remove various landscape elements enabling you to see what is there and what opportunities lie for restoring health to the landscape.