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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: EFFECTIVENESS OF WATERSHED LAND-MANAGEMENT PRACTICES TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY
2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1)Quantify the ability of best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate the impact of land-use change and extreme climatic events on hydrology and water quality a)Quantify weather and precipitation inputs to watershed models; b)Quantify impacts of land use on runoff and water quality; 2)Quantify the effects of grazing systems on surface runoff and subsurface flow and soil and water quality. 3)Quantify the rate, fate and transport of sediment, nutrients, and agricultural chemicals after implementing agricultural management systems.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Precipitation, weather, water-quality, and runoff data will be monitored from experimental watersheds and plots subjected to different conservation, pasture, and land-management practices. Archived data will be used for estimations of baseline and treatment effects, for precipitation studies, and for concept development.


3.Progress Report
Progress was made on all 3 NP211 objectives - Problem Area 5 (PA5) and PA6. Urbanization (PA5-Product 1 (P1)). Data collection continues. A land suitability analysis was published for land developers to site impervious elements to reduce watershed runoff. Paper was published on rainfall simulation, imperviousness, & erosion. Management-intensive grazing (PA6-P1). Water samples were collected from grazing watersheds & data analyses initiated. Progress was made by comparing forage species composition, animal health and amino acids in milk, and impact on surface and subsurface water and soil. No differences were observed in quality of groundwater. The experiment is being transitioned into an organic grazing system which uses poultry litter instead of mineral fertilizer. A manuscript on carbon loss from pasture sediment is in review. Precipitation ( PA5-P2). To understand how to adjust beginning times of storms (BTS) within a day, an investigation of spatial monthly BTS was made. BTS distribution changed between unimodal and bimodal and BTS can be estimated from a nearby rain gauge. A paper was written. Studies of improved simulation of intensities within storms and probabilistic precipitation patterns were started. While times between storms can be estimated using monthly precipitation, storm depth parameter estimation has not yielded a similar simple relationship. Manure (PA6-P1). Progress was made for the 4th winter manure application (swine manure) to 4 plots on frozen ground and in 4 watersheds. All treated areas were planted to no-till corn. Dustpan samplers were installed at 2 locations from the lower edge of the application areas on plots. Runoff samples were analyzed for nutrients, E. coli and enterococci. Progress is documented among collaborators through site visits, email correspondence, phone calls, and shared data. NAEW soil and air temperatures and runoff data continue to be checked for analysis of frozen-soil runoff. A presentation was made at a national scientific society meeting and a manuscript is in review. Soil carbon (PA6-P1). In addition to soil sampling & analysis, collaboration continues with OSU scientists to compare impacts of various land management practices on soil organic carbon & soil properties. 3 journal articles are in different stages of publication. Filter socks (PA6-P4). Investigation of filter socks filled with proprietary sorbent was initiated in spring ‘09, but terminated in spring ‘10 due to collaborator’s concern regarding performance of their product. New collaboration being pursued with scientists at the USDA-ARS Soil Drainage Unit for FY11 regarding testing of modified iron or biochar in filter socks. A paper was published. BMP (PA6-P6). NAEW runoff and precipitation data checking is nearly complete for a study to identify parameters that characterize equations for duration curves (DCs). Parameter variation in nested NAEW watersheds will provide guidance for use in ungauged watersheds. Low flow ends of DCs suggest that the Box-Cox transform fits data well. An analysis for the minimum number of water samples needed for stable DCs provided the results for a revised manuscript that is nearly complete.


4.Accomplishments
1. NAEW long-term data bases required for studies of trends, models, and evaluations of land-management practices. The North Appalachian Experimental Watershed near Coshocton, Ohio has collected runoff, groundwater flow, and erosion data from agricultural watersheds since the late 1930’s. Long-term data bases are necessary to identify long-term trends and to develop models to describe the impacts of various land uses. Water quality data have been collected from a variety of management practices since the early 1970’s. Corresponding meteorological data are also available. Collection of such long-term data requires a sustained investment of significant resources, and therefore, such data bases are rare. Details of the kinds of data collected at the NAEW and the length of record for different data bases were published. Collaborations with other scientists who have uses for long-term data bases have been established.

2. In northern Appalachia, some agricultural management practices are more effective in sequestering carbon. Agricultural systems are an important part of our “carbon footprint”; they can be sources for CO2 emissions or sinks to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. Eight commonly used agricultural systems in northern Appalachia were studied at the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed near Coshocton, Ohio to measure changes in soil organic carbon (SOC) over a 38 year span. SOC was measured at different soil depths in 1969 and again in 2007 to see whether land management practices changed the SOC over time. It was found that SOC increased under forest management and no-till corn with manure added. Continuous corn and/or no-tillage practices maintained the SOC level over this period. Removal of residues for fuel, and this may cause lower CO2 emissions than using fossil fuels for generation of electricity, may have negative impacts on soil properties and soil quality.


Review Publications
Owens, L.B., Bonta, J.V., Shipitalo, M.J. 2009. USDA-ARS North Appalachian Experimental Watershed: 70-Year Hydrologic, Soil Erosion, and Water Quality Database. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74(2):619-623.

Lopez-Bellido, J., Lal, R., Owens, L.B., Lopez-Bellido, L. 2010. Does North Appalachian Agriculture Contribute to Soil Carbon Sequestration. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 137(3-4):373-376.

Ramirez, N., Wang, P., Lejeune, J., Shipitalo, M.J., Ward, L., Sreevatsan, S., Dick, W. 2009. Effect of Tillage and Rainfall on Transport of Manure-Applied Cryptosporidium Parvum Oocysts through Soil. Journal of Environmental Quality. 38(6):2394–2401.

Logsdon, S.D., Green, T.R., Seyfried, M.S., Evett, S.R., Bonta, J.V. 2010. Hydra Probe and Twelve-wire Probe Comparisons in Fluids and Soil Cores. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 74:5-12.

Wang, X., Shuster, W., Pal, C., Buchberger, S., Bonta, J.V., Avadhanula, K. 2010. Low Impact Development Design—Integrating Suitability Analysis and Site Planning for Reduction of Post-Development Stormwater Quantity. Sustainability. 2(8):2467-2482.

Shipitalo, M.J., Bonta, J.V., Dayton, E.A., Owens, L.B. 2010. Impact of grassed waterways and compost filter socks on the quality of surface runoff from corn fields. Journal of Environmental Quality 39(3):1009-1018.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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