story to find out more.
ARS soil scientist
Greg McCarty, University of Maryland support scientist Anne Gustafson (center),
and ARS chemist Cathleen Hapeman use an Acoustic Doppler Channel Profiler to
assess water velocity and channel geometry of a Choptank Watershed stream.
Click the image for more information about it.
Research Seen To Improve the Chesapeake
Durham November 21, 2006
No one doubts that the Chesapeake Bay has been stressed by animal and
crop production--as well as by regional development--across its entire
watershed, a landmass of 64,000 square miles. For some time, Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) scientists and
others have been investigating ways to mitigate or prevent harm from farming
practices. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA).
The good news is: Theres been progress. The bays total
estimated levels of phosphorus fell from 27.1 million pounds of phosphorus in
1985 to 19.5 million in 2002. The nitrogen level fell from 338 million pounds
in 1985 to 278 million in 2002.
To further reduce runoff into the bay, soil scientist
McCarty with ARS
and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., has done extensive
research on the use of riparian buffer zones to reduce the amount of nutrients
getting into waterways. These buffer zoneswooded or grassy areas in
wetlands and along streambankshelp filter out pollutants and excess
Unfortunately, the nutrient reductions made to date may still be
insufficient because, in the summer of 2005, there was almost no oxygen in 3
percent of the bay's waters, and 21 percent had low levels, according to the
multiagency Chesapeake Bay Program.
This was the lowest oxygen level detected in the bay's central region since CBP
monitoring began in 1984.
Now, in addition to scientific studies by state and federal agencies
to improve the bay, there is a USDA effort under way called
Conservation Effects Assessment Project) tapping watershed researchers
nationwide to assess the benefits and value of conservation efforts. As part of
the CEAP project, the researchers are using historical data and monitoring of
current conditions to estimate the impact of conservation practices like
riparian zones and cover crops on environmental issues such as quality of the
water entering the bay.
more about this research in the November issue of Agricultural