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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2011 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 sties 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 of 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 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 second set of LiDAR data were collected on the Mahantango Creek watershed (WE-38) in east central Pennsylvania on April 18, 2011. These data will be compared to an earlier LiDAR dataset from WE-38 (March 26, 2007) to determine if there have been any measurable changes in stream channel geometry related to stream bank erosion over the four-year period from 2007 to 2011. The results will be used to support an ongoing study of stream sediment sources in the WE-38 watershed using sediment tracers and LiDAR data. The most recent LiDAR data collection on WE-38 completes the last major milestone for the current project (Agreement #59-1930-6-649).

A new follow-on agreement (Agreement #59-1930-1-171) was established in July 2011. This new agreement will replace the current agreement (Agreement #59-1930-6-649). The new agreement runs from September 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012. The funds will be used to develop and test novel sediment source tracking methods for quantifying sediment source reductions following stream restoration. Principal investigators from USDA-ARS, CVI, West Virginia University, and Virginia Tech convened in Blacksburg, VA on August 19-20, 2010 to lay out specific objectives for the project and outline key experiments and studies. Several rounds of conference calls have been held since then to track progress.

The ADODR is in frequent contact with the cooperator through phone calls, email, and site visis in addition to receipt of written reports.

Last Modified: 8/28/2016
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