Collaborative geodesign and spatial optimization for fragmentation-free land allocation

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Demand for agricultural food production is projected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, putting at risk our clean water supply and prospects for sustainable development. Fragmentation-free land allocation (FF-LA) aims to improve returns on ecosystem services by determining both space partitioning of a study area and choice of land-use/land-cover management practice (LMP) for each partition under a budget constraint. In the context of large-scale industrialized food production, fragmentation (e.g., tiny LMP patches) discourages the use of modern farm equipment (e.g., 10- to 20-m-wide combine harvesters) and must be avoided in the allocation. FF-LA is a computationally challenging NP-hard problem. We introduce three frameworks for land allocation planning, namely collaborative geodesign, spatial optimization and a hybrid model of the two, to help stakeholders resolve the dilemma between increasing food production capacity and improving water quality. A detailed case study is carried out at the Seven Mile Creek watershed in the midwestern US. The results show the challenges of generating near-optimal solutions through collaborative geodesign, and the potential benefits of spatial optimization in assisting the decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number226
JournalISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. 1541876, 1029711, IIS-1320580, 0940818 and IIS-1218168, the USDOD under Grants No. HM1582-08-1-0017 and HM0210-13-1-0005, ARPA-E under Grant No. DE-AR0000795, and the OVPR Infrastructure Investment Initiative and Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota. We also thank Kim Koffolt for improving the readability of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI.


  • Collaborative geodesign
  • Fragmentation
  • Land allocation
  • Optimization
  • Spatial constraints
  • Sustainability


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