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Wells Dean Hively, Phd

Dr. W. Dean Hively is a Research Physical Scientist GS-14 with the USGS Lower Mississippi-Gulf Water Science Center, where he leads a task titled 'Understanding Agricultural Conservation Practices.'

Dean is posted to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, in Beltsville, Maryland, where leads a team of researchers investigating the performance of agricultural conservation practices relative to environmental farm management and water quality outcomes.

His research uses a combination of satellite and proximal multispectral and hyperspectral sensors, along with on-farm sampling and access to farm management records, to map and evaluate the plant biomass, nitrogen content, and vegetative ground cover associated with winter cover cropped fields.  Separate toolkits are developed using privacy protected datasets (farm management practice impacts on cover crop performance) and using public datasets (wintertime vegetative groundcover by crop type). The resulting information informs adaptive management of conservation resources by stakeholders in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Missouri, and contributes to farm decision support tools developed by the Precision Sustainable Agriculture network.

Additionally, the team uses shortwave infrared (SWIR) reflectance data from the Worldview 3, PRISMA, and EMIT satellites to measure lignocellulose absorption features and map the distribution of crop residue and tillage intensity in the agricultural landscape. This work has informed spectral requirements for non-photosynthetic bands for the Landsat Next mission, scheduled to launch around 2030.

Dr. Hively’s work is principally supported by the USGS Land Change Science program within the Land Resources Mission Area, with additional funding from the USGS Priority Ecosystem Services program, USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP), NASA ACRES, NASA ACRES, NASA Carbon Monitoring Systems, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Missouri State University, and Pennsylvania Stroud Water Science Center.   

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government