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Remote sensing for assessing the zone of benefit where deep drains improve productivity of land affected by shallow saline groundwater

Kobryn, H.T.ORCID: 0000-0003-1004-7593, Lantzke, R., Bell, R.ORCID: 0000-0002-7756-3755 and Admiraal, R. (2015) Remote sensing for assessing the zone of benefit where deep drains improve productivity of land affected by shallow saline groundwater. Journal of Environmental Management, 150 . pp. 138-148.

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The installation of deep drains is an engineering approach to remediate land salinised by the influence of shallow groundwater. It is a costly treatment and its economic viability is, in part, dependent on the lateral extent to which the drain increases biological productivity by lowering water tables and soil salinity (referred to as the drains' zone of benefit). Such zones may be determined by assessing the biological productivity response of adjacent vegetation over time. We tested a multi-temporal satellite remote sensing method to analyse temporal and spatial changes in vegetation condition surrounding deep drainage sites at five locations in the Western Australian wheatbelt affected by dryland salinity-Morawa, Pithara, Beacon, Narembeen and Dumbleyung. Vegetation condition as a surrogate for biological productivity was assessed by Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) during the peak growing season. Analysis was at the site scale within a 1000m buffer zone from the drains. There was clear evidence of NDVI increasing with elevation, slope and distance from the drain. After accounting for elevation, slope and distance from the drain, there was a significant increase in NDVI across the five locations after installation of deep drains. Changes in NDVI after drainage were broadly consistent with measured changes at each site in groundwater levels after installation of the deep drains. However, this study assessed the lateral extent of benefit for biological productivity and gave a measure of the area of benefit along the entire length of the drain. The method demonstrated the utility of spring NDVI images for rapid and relatively simple assessment of the change in site condition after implementation of drainage, but approaches for further improvement of the procedure were identified.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
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