V. Cheeseman


Rural areas are now receiving more attention from planners and natural resource researchers. As existing suburban areas and new towns (including boom towns) spread across the countryside it becomes important to conduct a survey of existing land conditions. The purpose of this research was to supply geographic and statistical data on USDA defined prime farmland in an area undergoing physical development pressures.

A county-wide land use and land cover, and prime farmland inventory was performed in Rappahannock County, Virginia to study agriculturally critical areas. Individual prime farmland soil series were delineated and mapped. The objectives were to measure six characteristics of prime farmland.

The procedure devised to meet the objectives was two-fold. NASA Black & White medium scale flight photography was manually classified into 18 prime farmland related land use and land cover categories. Farm plans provided additional information to complete the land use and land cover data base. Soil survey information was manually transferred and combined with the land use and land cover base to complete the prime farmland data base.

The research provided a geographic baseline (1977) distributed and measurement of land use and land cover, and prime farmland soils. Results were two thematic maps showing the location of landuse/ land cover categories and prime farmland soil series, and area measurements for each. For rural counties with limited planning capabilities this technique requires minimal equipment and training, and could provide needed information on farmland resources.

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