Cropping systems in the northern Great Plains often include grass hay or pasture rotated with corn and soybeans. Normalizing absolute rates of grassland conversion Fig. This map reveals an arc of intermediate grass cover along the western edge of the Corn Belt Fig. This range of annualized rates is very similar to grassland conversion rates predicted by an econometric model that takes into account recent increases in corn prices 2.
Also, by inferring change from two temporal snapshots, our results are potentially sensitive to measurement errors at one or both dates. In Iowa, longer-term grassland trends were almost uniformly negative Fig. The color scheme indicates the sign negative or positive trend and significance level of geospatially referenced Mann—Kendall trend tests.
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B North Dakota grassland trends. D Iowa grassland trends. Next, we consider the agronomic and environmental attributes of lands on which grassland conversion has occurred. At the state level, however, different patterns emerge. In Minnesota, we found a high proportion of grassland conversion occurring on land characterized by excess wetness, pointing to a likely increase in anthropogenic drainage Fig. In Minnesota and the Dakotas, grassland conversion was concentrated on relatively high quality class II lands Fig.
This suggests that land owners in those states are seeking higher rates of return from high-quality pasture and hay lands by converting those lands to corn and soybean cultivation rather than continuing their use in local livestock production. By contrast, grassland conversion in Iowa was concentrated on less suitable land Fig. Prevalence of the climate modifier in the Dakotas and Nebraska was consistent with the westward expansion of the Corn Belt, as discussed earlier, and northward expansion of the Corn Belt into areas with shorter growing seasons.
Finally, we found grassland conversion in Nebraska more evenly distributed across lands highly unsuited to crop production Fig. Area of grassland conversion to corn or soybeans by land capability class. The Natural Resources Conservation Service ranks land by its suitability for agricultural production, with suitability declining as the index increases Classes 1 to 4 are arable lands, classes 5 to 8 are suitable mainly as pasture or rangeland, and classes 3 and 4 have severe to very severe limitations, respectively.
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Class modifiers represent hazards affecting land use within a particular capability class. The climate modifier indicates low temperatures or a lack of moisture as major hazards affecting use. Excess wetness indicates soils with poor drainage, a high water table, or vulnerability to flooding. The soil modifier refers to soil limitations within the rooting zone; including shallow soils, rocky soils, or a low water-holding capacity. The erosion modifier indicates soils vulnerable to erosion or degraded by past erosion.
B — F Results on a state-by-state basis. For duck species Anas and Aythya spp. However, our results show that grassland conversion is occurring in very close proximity to PPR wetlands. In South Dakota, for example, nearly , ha of grassland conversion occurred within a m buffer surrounding wetlands Fig.
A nearly identical pattern was found in North Dakota Fig. Given that nearly all prairie pothole wetlands in Iowa have been lost to drainage 26 , land use change in proximity to wetlands is negligible there. Finally, although grassland conversion within close proximity to wetlands in Nebraska was limited Fig.
Grassland conversion as a function of buffer distance around palustrine wetlands in the PPR. The source of wetland locations for this analysis was the National Wetlands Inventory A Total area of grassland conversion by state within , , and m of palustrine wetlands in the PPR. B Grassland conversion within wetland buffers as a percentage of the total amount of grassland conversion occurring in each state's portion of the PPR. Last, we examined the relationship between grassland conversion and lands protected under the CRP. The CRP pays farmers to establish and maintain grassland cover on retired cropland in exchange for a fixed rental payment over a fixed period.
Given recent increases in corn and soybean prices, and projections that high commodity prices will be sustained, econometric models predict that landowners will be less likely to renew expiring CRP contracts given an expectation of higher rates of return from resuming crop production 28 , Here, grassland conversion might be largely attributed to a resumption of cropping on CRP lands. This result suggests an expansion of corn and soybean cropping onto grassland beyond those lands formerly protected by the CRP.
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Enrollment in the CRP relative to grassland conversion. Negative values indicate a net loss in CRP area, positive values a net increase.
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Other implications of results in Figs. The concentration of grassland conversion on lands vulnerable to erosion implies negative impacts on soil quality and a subsequent cascade of negative impacts on, e. Tillage of adjacent uplands increases sediment inputs to PPR wetlands by several orders of magnitude 31 , limiting the productivity of duck food sources, including aquatic plants and invertebrates, and reducing flood water storage With respect to surface water hydrology, grassland conversion has been linked to historical increases in peak streamflows and their variance in the WCB, with a subsequent increase in flood risk As noted earlier, the concentration of grassland conversion in Minnesota on lands characterized by excess wetness implies an increase in anthropogenic drainage, In Minnesota, extensive modification of presettlement drainage patterns has been shown to substantially modify stream geomorphology and increase sediment transport Finally, the expansion of corn and soybean cultivation into less suitable climates and onto soils with lower water-holding capacities implies an elevated vulnerability to drought.
Such vulnerability is exemplified by impacts of the unusually severe US drought. One shortcoming of the present study was our inability to use the NASS CDL to distinguish between different types of grassland conversion, i. There is a clear need to develop more effective approaches for grassland classification, and to apply these techniques for annual grassland monitoring in the WCB and other rapidly changing agricultural regions.
Broadly speaking, our results illustrate important heterogeneities in the geography of grassland conversion. With respect to biofuel development, the implications of such heterogeneity have generally been overlooked. Historically, comparable grassland conversion rates have not been seen in the Corn Belt since the s and s 40 , the era of rapid mechanization of US agriculture.
Potential expansion of corn and soybean cultivation into remaining fragments of tallgrass prairie in the WCB presents a critical ecosystem conservation issue 9. High-quality waterfowl habitat most likely to persist under climate change is projected to be concentrated in South Dakota east of the Missouri River 14 , However, this is precisely where grassland conversion in close proximity to PPR wetlands is most prevalent Fig.
With respect to biofuel development, Tilman et al. A number of studies have now shown that a biofuel strategy based on corn ethanol and soy biodiesel may indeed be suboptimal in terms of net energy and carbon balances 5 , 7 , 36 and negative impacts on other ecosystem services 5 , 41 , Many of these positive attributes could be realized in the WCB by planting perennial bioenergy crops e.
However, the carbon debt arising from grassland conversion is largely accrued during the conversion process and 2 to 3 y of tillage postconversion 7 , Even if recently converted grasslands were subsequently converted to perennial bioenergy crops, substantial carbon debts would still persist. With respect to conservation of biodiversity and wetlands, the maintenance of mixed-grass prairie as pasture, or possible harvest of mixed-grass prairie as a cellulosic biofuel feedstock, is clearly a preferable alternative to grassland conversion.
However, the development of a cellulosic biofuel industry in the United States has been slow The present study indicates that the window of opportunity for realizing benefits of perennial bioenergy crops may be closing in the WCB. In doing so, we found numerous very small patches of grassland conversion Fig. See the difference? In most cases, you have to find the source of the problem. They likely include two to three hypothetical members of your target demographic, based on your existing customers. They break your target audience down by basic information like age, location, and industry, then describe them in terms of details like needs and budget.
For your personas to actually help your business, they need to go beyond a few basic generalities. One way to do this is by conducting extensive market research on specific features of your product or service. After all, earning more of these customers is what will help your business grow. When you identify your best customers, you can work backward and determine the characteristics that make up each of your best buyers.
For a B2C audience, focus on details like family structure, existing demands on their time and money, specific pain points, and obstacles that might prevent them from buying. From there, you can start to build qualified buyer personas , which will look something like this:.
If you track metrics like customer acquisition cost and lifetime value for your company, you should include these, too.
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Your product team, for example, can use them to add new features that are in line with what your highest-value customers want. Then, your marketing and sales team can focus on highlighting specific features and functions for different segments of your audience.
This will give you an idea of the types of services they value most, and it can also help you make more informed decisions on how you develop your product. If every customer who takes it rates each feature as a seven or eight, you can gather that your audience is somewhat interested in all of your ideas. With this type of survey, you force your respondents to make a much clearer choice: Interested, or not interested.
You can also use this format to pit different features against one another. When you make your audience decide between two features, instead of ranking their interest in both on a scale from one to ten, you can draw much clearer conclusions. For instance: If you had to choose between speed and accuracy, which would rank as more important? Of course, these surveys can be a bit simplistic.
But if you want to take yours a bit further and collect even more feedback, you have to focus on asking the right questions. You might think that this is the best way to collect large amounts of data on your customers. This is not the case at all. So if your surveys take longer than four minutes to complete, you could actually wind up gathering less information from your customers. Unfortunately, in one an analysis of surveys, Profitwell found that the average time it takes to complete a survey is And even worse, when they analyzed the quality of the survey responses, they found a significant drop in quality after four minutes.
Your customers will be much more willing to fill out a survey every other week if they know it will only take 30 seconds to complete. When you send simple surveys, you should make sure to convey how easy they are to complete in your subject lines. Your surveys need to provide a great user experience if you want your customers to continue filling them out.
There are tons of survey tools available, but one of the best in terms of design and user experience is Typeform. It also comes with pre-set templates you can use to experiment with different formats and response styles. These templates are all designed to be responsive so that users can take them on any device.
You can also customize them to match your brand. You can switch out the questions to match your needs, but the default options are focused on customer development.
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Typeform is also compatible with CRM software, so you can save and sort through your responses all in one place. As you send these surveys, make sure to track your responses based on personas.
If you notice that customers within a specific industry tend to value one feature more than the rest of your customers, this is valuable information to include. As humans, we all have the desire to evolve and improve. Each improvement we want to make is a Job to be Done.