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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2010 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 (CVI) and ARS. Additional details of research can be found in the report for the University Park, PA associated project 1902-13000-011-00D, "Integrated Management of Land and Water Resources for Environmental and Economic Sustainability in the Northeast U.S."

Specifically this agreement directly addresses related 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 no-cost extension was executed to extend this agreement until August 31, 2011. Danny Welsch serves as Lead Scientist for CVI on this project. The remaining project funds are being redirected to conduct collaborative research on stream restoration and sedimentation issues in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Both of these issues were identified as key research priorities in the initial cooperative agreement that was established in 2007.

In January 2010, a team of researchers from CVI, USDA-ARS, West Virginia University, and Virginia Tech convened in Cacapon, West Virginia to outline a project that evaluates the effectiveness of stream restoration on reducing sediment erosion in agricultural watersheds. The project will combine information from environmental tracers (e.g., 137Cs, rare earth elements, etc.), remote sensing, and basic hydrometric and water quality data to quantify suspended sediment contributions from landscape and streambank sources before and after the installation of different stream restoration practices.

The research team also met several times during the spring of 2010 to identify potential research sites and to develop a monitoring strategy. The Cacapon River watershed, an agricultural watershed located in West Virginia, was selected for study because it has a history of streambank erosion and sedimentation problems. Several mainstem and tributary sites were identified and targeted for intensive monitoring based on existing and planned stream restoration installations. While some monitoring is already in place on the mainstem Cacapon through funding provided by a NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, the majority of the proposed work is slated to begin during the fall of 2010. Two graduate students (1 Va. Tech and 1 WVU) will be trained on this project.

A second set of LiDAR data were originally scheduled to be collected on the Mahantango Creek watershed (WE-38) in east-central Pennsylvania in late March 2010. At the time of the scheduled flight, CVI was in the process of transferring its LiDAR operation to West Virginia University. As a result, plans for data collection were rescheduled for sometime during the fall of 2010 after leaf-off.

Last Modified: 11/28/2015
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