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Monday, 08 April 2019

Horse Facility Photo Monitoring Made Easy

by John Warner, USDA Soil Conservationist

photo monitoring1Grassed filter strip between fencing and roadWith all the recent wet weather we’re enjoying, now might be the right time to set up some simple permanent photo monitoring locations at key locations where water runs off your property. You might have some filter strips or other permanent vegetation on the outside of horse paddocks where water can gently overland flow off your property (see picture to the right).

Or you might have some more challenging places where water leaves your property. But in any case, permanent photo monitoring can you give important information that can inform your stormwater runoff management.



photo monitoring 2 resizedPhoto monitoring station location identifiers in Big SurAfter the Soberanes Fire, Big Sur Land Trust set up photo monitoring stations throughout their redwood forest to document vegetation recovery (see picture left).

As you can see, this is really just a simple L bracket mounted on a post that allows you to place your smart phone in exactly the same position every time you take a picture. For horse facilities, these simple photo monitoring stations can be set up on fence posts, or another suitable flat surface, where the L bracket can be mounted. Another advantage of using smartphones to take your monitoring pictures is that these pictures are usually date stamped so it is very easy to document when your picture was taken.

Some suggestions of what to monitor with photographs: Manure management areas, pastures, paddocks, openarenas, riding rings, trails, roads, riparian areas, and more. Depending on the monitoring purpose, photos can be taken during winter rains to show runoff patterns, but also in the summer to show a contrasting view. It is especially valuable to have photos taken from exactly the same spot before and after any water drainage improvements you may undertake. Have fun taking pictures, and you may be surprised at how useful these photos will be in how you manage your property!

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