Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2009 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

A no-cost extension that was executed in August, 2008 extended this agreement until August 31, 2010. Paul Kinder, Co-Principal Investigator for CVI, resigned his position in June, 2009. Kiena Smith now serves as Co-Principal Investigator for CVI and Danny Welch serves as Lead Scientist for CVI on this project. The postdoc position that was supported by CVI was vacated in July, 2009. Project leaders decided that this position is no longer needed as participants are well accustomed to working directly with each other. Salary dollars will be redirected toward data collection in support of project goals. The ADODR conducted project related activities and procedures were discussed and implemented using conference calls, one-on-one meetings, and group meetings with collaborators.

Data collected in 2009 for the Choptank river watershed, which feeds directly into the main stem of the Chesapeake Bay, were processed by CVI employees and delivered to the principal ARS collaborators in Beltsville, MD. Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data clearly show areas of inundated wetlands under tree canopies, and comparisons between data collected during wet conditions and data collected during dry conditions approximate the maximum and minimum boundaries of these inundated areas on the Eastern Shore. Connections between wetlands are also discernable.

Last Modified: 8/28/2016
Footer Content Back to Top of Page