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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: APPLICATION OF REMOTE SENSORY TECHNOLOGY TO ADDRESS IMPACTS OF AGRICULTURE ON WATER QUALITY&FISH HABITAT WITHIN THE CHESAPEAKE BAY WATERSHED

Location: Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research

2008 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)
This collaborative research will involve USDA-ARS and Canaan Valley Institute (CVI) scientists, in the context of ongoing research initiatives, particularly the Conservation Effects Assessment Project. Research will be conducted at sites representative of landscapes and agricultural practices within the Chesapeake Bay drainage basin, including the Mid-Atlantic Highlands of Appalachia, Allegheny Plateau, Valley and Ridge, and Atlantic Coastal Plain. Research in steeply sloping landscapes will center on identification of areas of high frequency runoff generation and erosion and on improving site assessment index application using high resolution elevation models. Research in nearly level landscapes will focus on characterization of overland flow and subsurface recharge areas, drainage ditch networks and critical control points favorable to different management practices. Testing of remote sensing applications will take advantage of ongoing USDA-ARS watershed studies (Choptank, Manokin, Mahantango, Town Brook) to assess the potential to remotely identify critical source areas of nutrient loss. Research in the Choptank watershed will involve direct collaboration with scientists at the Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, MD. Existing soil and water quality monitoring data from these established experimental watersheds, as well as direct sampling and new experimentation, will be used to support testing. CVI scientist will acquire and process remotely sensed data (e.g., LiDAR and hyperspectral). With these data, USDA-ARS and CVI will collaboratively develop novel inference techniques to identify areas of flow favorable to nutrient transport. Critical flow areas will be used to target areas where investment in additional conservation practices can be expected to achieve maximum water quality benefit and to evaluate the effectiveness of existing conservation practices. USDA-ARS and CVI will evaluate the potential for widespread application of newly identified inference techniques and participate in the development of strategies for their use in watershed management.


3.Progress Report

The objectives of this research conducted under this agreement directly address related in-house 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). Data collected in 2007 for the Mahantango watershed located in east-central Pennsylvania and the Choptank river watershed, which feeds directly into the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay, were processed by CVI employees and delivered to the principle ARS collaborators. LiDAR data clearly show areas of inundated wetlands under tree canopies and could possibly be used to map and monitor these areas on the Eastern Shore. CVI organized and hosted a well-attended stream restoration conference featuring Andrew Simon, ARS scientist from the National Sedimentation Laboratory in Oxford, MS. LiDAR and color-infrared imagery data were collected for the Penn State University Agricultural Experiment Station at Rock Springs, PA and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus and experimental farm 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. Multi-spectral imagery data were also collected for the Penn State University Agricultural Experiment Station at Rock Springs, PA using equipment on loan from a CVI business associate. Data collection plans were revised to include a second data collection effort for the Choptank watershed in the spring of 2009. A Postdoctoral Research Associate managed and co-ordinated project related research activities. Project related activities and procedures were discussed, finalized and implemented using conference calls, one-to-one meetings, and group meetings among collaborators. In addition there were several trips made to the different research sites in Pennsylvania and Maryland. National Program 106 , Component 8 Sustainability and Environmental Compatibility of Aquaculture. The ADODR monitors the project through supervision of a postdoctoral reseach associate who manages and coordinates project related research activities. Project related activities and procedures were discussed, finalized and implemented using conference calls, on to one meetings, and group meetings among collaborators. In addition there were several trips made to the different research sites in Pennsylvania and Maryland.


Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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