In order to successfully test the process of identifying furrows, it is important that the study area includes agricultural land that has a large proportion of fields with row crops, as these are where tillage may occur. It is also necessary that the area has pre-existing high quality LiDAR data that is readily accessible. Recently, OMNRF and OMAFRA have commissioned high quality LiDAR scans for many rural and agricultural areas within Ontario. This data can be used to assess and improve soil health (Aspinall & Sweeney, 2012). Previously, technologies for developing soil maps in Ontario have not been suitable for this scale of digital analysis (OMAFRA, 2016b). Access to up-to-date soil maps and data is critical for future land-use planning and best management practices.
In 2017, the Provincial and Federal governments committed funding to recreate existing soil maps within Northumberland County. LiDAR scans were carried out in and around Peterborough, and this project uses those data to identify furrows and ridges in the Northumberland County area. The Northumberland County LiDAR data covers approximately 11,664 hectares within the Canadian census of agriculture sub-division of Trent Hills. A major portion of the Northumberland County extent is suitable for soil mapping due to its minimal forest coverage and minimal urban development. Table 1 below shows the land-use breakdown for tilled and non-tilled agricultural resources for the study site. Continuous row crop, corn systems, mixed systems, grain systems, and hay systems are considered as potentially tilled land in the study area, as seen in Figure 2.
Table 1 - Proportion of potentially tilled and non-tilled agricultural resources in the Northumberland County Area.
Figure 2 - Proposed study area for Northumberland County