Topographic Geospatial Assessment of Subsurface Drainage Tile Locations

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Ortiz, David
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Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.

Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.

The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.

Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

The U.S. Corn Belt is underlain by extensive drainage tile lines to support agricultural production, which significantly altered regional hydrology and nutrient transport processes. In, many cases, records of the precise location of main drainage tile lines are unavailable and can only be approximated using geospatial analyses. Using high-resolution topographic data, we estimated locations of drainage tile systems and compared the estimates to locations based on digitized tile maps for a set of drainage districts in Boone County, Iowa. We estimated spatial correspondence by percent error between generated drainage tile lines and actual locations of drainage lines. Our analysis suggest that the estimated drainage tile systems are reasonable representations of recorded main drainage lines for the set of drainage districts. This method of approximating drainage tile line locations can assist in estimating drainage tile line systems that do not belong to drainage districts and contain no records.

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