The increasing need for accurate information on agricultural land conversion, expressed by users in government and the private sector, drives the Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP) to continually improve technology and procedures.
The improvements, conducted over several updates, make the paper and digital (GIS) versions of the Important Farmland Maps significantly more accurate and useful. They represent evolutions in technology that have occurred in recent years, and are necessary to create products meeting modern standards for use in the planning process.
2008-2010 Update Cycle: Non-GIS users can now access Important Farmland data via the California Important Farmland Finder (CIFF). The CIFF application was developed by the Department of Conservation's Enterprise Technology Services Division. It provides a number of location search options, as well as the ability to place points, digitize areas of interest, create buffers, and obtain Important Farmland acreages.
Despite the recession, planners at the state and local level have actively worked toward new energy, transportation, and water infrastructure to support the next generation of Californians. Interest in Important Farmland data increased as proposals for solar projects came forward. FMMP analysts responded to requests for evaluation of additional chemical, physical, or water-related data to determine potential productivity limitations at these locations. FMMP provided technical assistance to lead agencies and conducted evaluations of these proposals through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process on behalf of the Department. See Chapter 2 of the 2008-2010 Farmland Conversion Report for more detail.
2010-2012 Update Cycle: The 2012 mapping cycle was conducted in large part during the recession, pointing to the need to improve technology as a way to offset FMMP staff limitations. During the 2012 update, FMMP developed a new field data acquisition process that eliminated procedural redundancies and the use of paper, as well as improved staff safety. In place of paper maps for notations and navigation, analysts now employ a tablet computer and cloud-based access to GIS data. Edits to GIS data and site-specific notations can be made while on site, reducing data entry upon return to the office. Gathering data in the field is important in cases where available data cannot resolve the current status of disturbed areas and agricultural sites that appear to have been idled for multiple update cycles. See Chapter 2 of the 2015 Farmland Conversion Report for more detail.
More information regarding older improvements to FMMP technology and procedures used to create the Important Farmland maps and data is provided in the links below.
Continuous Improvement Links