Wells Hively


W. Dean Hively is a Research Physical Scientist with the USGS Eastern Geographic Science Center, where he leads a task titled 'Understanding Agricultural Conservation Practices.'  He is posted to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory.

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 practices and cover crop performance) and using public datasets (wintertime vegetative groundcover by crop type). Additionally, using the SWIR bands provided by the Worldview 3 satellite, the project is able to map the distribution of crop residue and tillage intensity on working farms, based on detection of cellulose absorption features.

In addition, Dean is the lead for maintaining the USGS status as a Conservation Cooperator with the USDA, and coordinates the annual acquisition of privacy protected conservation data from USDA agencies and the production of aggregated datasets for public release.

This information informs adaptive management of conservation resources by Chesapeake Bay Program Partners, and links the agricultural landscape to water quality outcomes by documenting the implementation and performance of conservation practices at the watershed scale.

The work is supported by the USGS Land Change Science and Priority Ecosystem Services programs



Ph.D. 2004. Cornell University Department of Natural Resources

Masters of Science. 1998. Cornell University Department of Soil, Crop and Atmospheric Sciences

Bachelor of Arts. 1990. Harvard University



 Research Physical Scientist, April 2009 –present, United States Geological Survey (USGS), Eastern Geographic Science Center, Reston, VA.

 Soil Scientist, March 2005 – April 2009, United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Beltsville, MD.

 Consulting Scientist, Part time, 2002 – March 2005, New York State Water Resources Institute.

 Postdoctoral Associate, April 2004 – March 2005, Van Es Soil Physical Health Laboratory, Department of Crop and Soil Science, Cornell University.

 Farm Worker,  part and full time, 1996 - 2000 and 2003 - 2004  Potenza Organic Farms, Trumansburg, N.Y.

 Field Educator, part-time, 2000 - 2002  Black Locust Initiative, Trumansburg, N.Y.

 Coordinator, part time, 1996 - 1998 Cornell Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Seminar Series.

 Agroforestry Extension Agent   1991 - 1993 U.S. Peace Corps, Senegal, West Africa.



Bronze Medal award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2015

Second author on an article that won first prize as “Remote Sensing Best Paper for the Year 2014”

Mentor to first place winners at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center Poster Day, 2012, 2013

U.S. Department of the Interior STAR award, June 2010

Editor’s Citation for Excellence in Manuscript Review, 2005, Journal of Environmental Quality







Remote sensing to monitor cover crop adoption in southeastern Pennsylvania. 2015. Hively, W.D., S.W. Duiker, G.W. McCarty, and K. Prabhakara. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 2015 70(6):340-352, doi:10.2489/jswc.70.6.340 [Link]

Evaluating the relationship between biomass, percent groundcover and remote sensing indices across six winter cover crop fields in Maryland, United States. 2015. Prabhakara, K., W.D. Hively, and G.W. McCarty. 2015. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 39:88-102. DOI: 10.1016/j.jag.2015.03.002 [Link]

Integrating Federal and State Data Records to Report Progress in Establishing Agricultural Conservation Practices on Chesapeake Bay Farms. 2013. W.D. Hively, O. Devereux, and P. Claggett. USGS Open File Report 2013-1287. [Link]

Use of airborne hyperspectral imagery to map soil properties in tilled agricultural fields. 2011. Hively, W.D., G.M. McCarty, J.B.Reeves III, M.W. Lang, R.A. Oesterling, and S.R. Delwiche. Applied and Environmental Soil Science. Vol 2011, #358193, 13pp. DOI:10.1155/2011/358193 [Link]

Relating Nutrient and Herbicide Fate with Landscape Features in 15 Sub-Basins of the Choptank River Watershed: Implications for Management. 2011. Hively, W.D., C.J. Hapeman, L.L. McConnell, T.R. Fisher, C.P. Rice, G.W. McCarty, P. Downey, G. Nino de Guzman, K. Bialek, M.W. Lang, A.M. Sadeghi, D.R. Whitall, T.E. Jordan, A. Lynn, A.B. Gustafson, A.J. Sutton, K.A. Sefton, and J.A. Harman Fetcho. Science of the Total Environment 409:3866-3878 [Link]

Remote Sensing Leaf Area Index of Winter Wheat from Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs). 2010. Hunt, R., W.D. Hively, S. Fujikawa, T.L. Ng, M. Tranchitella, W. Raszula, D. Yoel, C.S.T. Daughtry, and G.W. McCarty. Remote Sensing 2:290-305. [Link]

Using satellite remote sensing to estimate winter cover crop nutrient uptake efficiency. 2009. W.D. Hively, M.Lang, G.W. McCarty, J. Keppler, A. Sadeghi, and L. McConnell. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 64(5):303-313. [Link]

Federal-state partnership yields success in remote sensing analysis of conservation practice effectiveness: Results from the Choptank River Conservation Effects Assessment Project. (Technology Transfer Feature). 2009. W.D. Hively, G.W. McCarty, and J. Keppler. 2009. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 64(5):154A [Link]