Innisfree Observatory

Crozet, Virginia, USA

The Innisfree Observatory is a farmer-led land observatory that explores the Critical Zone from the perspective of active farm management. Research questions and ongoing innovative land practices are directed by the farmers and are under continuous observation through long term sensor installations, portable environmental observation instruments, field data collection activities, public data harvesting, and mobile data collection from volunteers and staff.

The purpose of the Innisfree Observatory is to study the effect of regenerative and adaptive land management strategies on our local ecosystem. We take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding human impact by studying the cycling of nutrients and energy between the water, air, rock, soil and biological components of our local ecosystem throughout the season and over the years. By collecting weather, soil, vegetation, livestock and watershed data, our understanding of ecological and pedagogical change will be understood in the context of daily and seasonal patterns as well as long-term change in climate.

One of the goals of our observatory is to develop a causal story of how our practices are affecting both the managed and natural areas within the local ecosystem. Our long-term research will be used to draw connections between complex ecosystem interactions and easy to measure parameters that are accessible to land managers across the globe. The observatory will also serve as a demonstration of how land managers can observe, learn, and evolve their practices by entering into a conversation with their land rather than following prescribed best practices.

Experimental methodology and data is rigorously recorded using the myObservatory data management system to enable sharing of findings with collaborators that include land managers, scientists, and policy makers. The observatory is equipped with a laboratory and range of field sensing equipment to carry out our own research which is also available for collaborating researchers to utilize while studying environmental phenomena at the Innisfree Farm.

The brief (45-second) video below shows livestock movements being tracked using myObservatory and the mobile applications: