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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2007 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Develop and validate methods to identify critical source areas of soil and nutrient loss in agricultural catchments of the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin using remote sensing techniques, particularly LiDAR-developed topographic maps. A. Develop technology for detection of runoff and erosion prone critical source areas in steeply sloped landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay drainage area. B. Develop technology for detection of runoff and nutrient loss critical source areas in nearly-level landscapes of the Chesapeake Bay drainage area.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
In order to link the edge-of-field effects of agricultural management practices to down stream impacts on water quality and fish habitat, LiDAR-developed topographic maps and other remotely sensed data will be used to detect runoff and erosion prone areas in steeply sloped landscapes, target site-specific ditch and field management practices in nearly-level landscapes, and characterize stream channel processes. Research will be conducted at sites representative of landscapes and agricultural practices within the Potomac and the watersheds, estuaries and marine ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin, including the Mid-Atlantic Highlands of Appalachia, Allegheny Plateau, Valley and Ridge, and Atlantic Coastal Plain.

3.Progress Report
This report serves to document research conducted under an Assistance Type Cooperative Agreement between Canaan Valley Institute and ARS. Additional details of research can be found in the report for the associated project 1902-13000-011-00D, "Integrated Management of Land and Water Resources for Environmental and economic Sustainability in the Northeast U.S." The objectives of this research conducted under this agreement directly address related in-house CRIS project Objective 2: Evaluate landscape-scale controls on nutrient transfers to quantify aggregate N and P losses from farming systems and watersheds typical of the Northeast, and Objective 4: Determine effectiveness of conservation practices (BMPs) in the Cannonsville/Town Brook Watershed and other appropriate watersheds (CEAP-related).

A Postdoctoral Research Associate was hired in January 2007 to manage and co-ordinate project related research activities. Various project related activities and procedures were discussed, finalized and implemented in part using conference calls (September 2006) and one-to-one meetings (June, August, and September 2006, and in February and May 2007). In addition there were several trips made to the different research sites in PA and MD.

Research projects to address the objectives mentioned below have been initiated in the Mahantango watershed located in east-central Pennsylvania and the Choptank river watershed which feeds directly into the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay and is the only tidal watershed under study in the CEAP program.

• Relate topography to nitrogen (N) fertilizer recommendations: Corn yield response to N fertilizer applications was observed to co-vary with soil moisture as related to topographic position. LiDAR may be used to generate detailed topographic maps for the purpose of refining N fertilizer recommendations. • Determine N availability for corn along a transect from drier to wetter landscape positions in a Delmarva Bay agricultural landscape. • Detect Rill Erosion: Test the maximum vertical resolution of LiDAR for use in mapping rill erosion as an indication of variable source area runoff following a major rainfall event. • Accurately delineate watershed boundaries. The watershed boundaries will then be used to define contributing areas for water quality sample analysis and landscape and water quality models. • Locate areas of potential and actual water accumulation (flooding). This information will be used to estimate wetland services (e.g. pollutant removal, habitat, and flood mitigation). • Delineate overland flow pathways which will be used to better define the linkage between agricultural fields and adjacent wetlands.

LiDAR and color-infrared imagery data were collected for the WE-38 (March 26, 2007) watershed in the Mahantango watershed and the Choptank area (March 28, 2007) using an aircraft-mounted Optech ALTM 3100 sensor, which can fire up to 100,000 laser pulses per second. The ALTM 3100 system records four hits from each of the laser pulses, meaning that elevation information will be gathered not only for the ground but for surface features as well.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations

6.Technology Transfer


Last Modified: 9/1/2015
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