Aerial Maps Reveal Flooding Impacts on Farmland

Client: Plas Newydd Farm

Location: Ridgefield, Washington

Aerial maps helped a farm manager understand impacts and patterns of seasonal flooding.

Founded in the 1850s, Plas Newydd Farm in Ridgefield, Washington, has been managed as a year-round dairy farm and cattle ranch, as well as for extraction forestry. Recently, the farm has been used for sustainable timber harvesting and seasonal leased cattle grazing, and has run its own conservation program to address historical land use management impacts by restoring site-scale watershed processes. The farm’s geography makes it prone to seasonal flooding, which impacts the farm’s management activities.

To help the farm manager learn more about the impact of flooding on the land, and to provide critical information about salmon spawning habitat on the farm, we used a UAS to map the farm and document the high-water line.

We deployed UAS to map large inundated areas and capture aerial footage for additional visuals documenting seasonal flooding. This project required innovative technical approaches to accurately map homogeneous areas of dense vegetation and standing water—using a maximum likelihood algorithm, we automated image classification for standing water to accurately analyze the site imagery.