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Agricultural land use and irrigation mapping, Osceola County, Florida, 2014

Project Chief: Richard Marella
Cooperator: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Water Policy
Collaboration: Osceola County, Florida
Period of Project: FY 2013-2014

Problem Statement

Recently planted peppers with a rye grass

Recently planted peppers with a rye grass "wind buffer", March 2014, near Yeehaw Junction, Florida.

In many Florida counties, agricultural water withdrawal estimates are based on reports of the number of acres irrigated and a net irrigation requirement (NIR) provided by the water management district. In Osceola County, those reports are provided by the St. Johns River and South Florida Water Management Districts (SJRWMD and SFWMD, respectively). Land use cover estimates produced by the SJRWMD and the SFWMD reported approximately 49,700 acres of irrigated agricultural land within the County during 2007, but according to the USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture , Osceola County had 98 farms and 31,240 irrigated acres of various agricultural crops in 2007 (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2007). This discrepancy indicates that better estimates of crop acreage totals are needed for Osceola County to improve water withdrawal estimates and projections. In addition, the crop acreage reported by the USDA does not provide a breakdown of the irrigation system type. Knowledge of the irrigation system type is critical in calculating agricultural water use because it determines the efficiency factor used to calculate the NIR.


The main objective of this study is to create a digital map for Osceola County showing agricultural areas farmed and irrigated between October 2013 and April 2014, and to populate an attribute table with information for each farm field including the total acreage irrigated, crop type, irrigation system used, and other pertinent information.

Crop data will include vegetable crops, fruit crops (including citrus), row crops (may be referred to as field crops), ornamental crops and grasses (including nursery stock and sod farms), and any crop associated with biofuel production. Improved pasture also will be mapped and differentiated as irrigated or non-irrigated. Irrigation systems will be generalized into three types: low volume systems, sprinkler systems, and flood systems.


A digital map of irrigated crop lands will be developed from aerial photography-orthoimagery maps obtained from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – Florida Geospatial Library (imagery from January 2011) for Osceola County. Once the map has been developed, staff will begin to verify individual fields by ground truthing by visual inspection (air or road). During this ground truthing, crop type, irrigation system type, and other attributes will be identified and labeled per field. This ground truthing will take place during the spring months (March - April), and some selected areas will be spot-checked again in the fall months (September and October) to identify which fields are double cropped (replanted a second time during the year for a second harvest). Other sources of information that may be used during the ground truthing including the County Property Appraiser’s maps, land use maps proved by the SJRWMD and the SFWMD, as well as other sources that may be useful, including the County Extension Office or the local Natural Resource Conservation Service office.


[Results are not yet available].

Information Products

The study will provide the following products: (1) a digital map for Osceola County showing agricultural areas farmed and irrigated between October 2013 and April 2014 with metadata and attributes containing Florida land-use classification codes for levels one, two, three, and in some cases level four; (2) spread sheets with tabular data including the total number of acres irrigated by crop type and irrigation system; and (3) a USGS technical memorandum detailing procedures and data sources used to develop the GIS map and data tables.

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