CONSERVATION PRACTICES IN NORTHEASTERN GRAZING LANDS
Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research
2010 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this cooperative research project is to evaluate the watershed-level effects of agricultural land use and Best Management Practices in the Spring Creek watershed in central Pennsylvania by using aerial remote sensing topographic data and on-farm sampling to characterize within-farm placement of agricultural and conservation land uses relative to local drainage networks.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Previous CEAP-related research in the Spring Creek watershed funded the collection of fine-grained LIDAR topographic data and collection of basic information on agricultural BMPs applied within the watershed. Further on-farm mapping and producer interviews will be used to identify land use types on the grazing farms within this watershed. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will be used to map water flow paths within farms, and to characterize the spatial position of land use types with differing potential for nutrient and sediment runoff relative to those flow paths. This Specific Cooperative Agreement will be used to hire a post-doctoral research associate to conduct the watershed research, and to work closely with the cooperator on the analysis of LIDAR data.
All land use within the riparian zone of the three research watersheds within Spring Creek has been mapped in detail from high-resolution aerial photography, including classification of grazing and crop lands and marking of livestock concentration areas. Placement of Best Management Practices has been obtained from analysis of aerial photography and interviews with scientists and conservation planners working in the watershed. The first product from this study, a statistical comparison of visually-estimated flow paths to those calculated from digital elevation models at three levels of resolution, has been completed and preliminary results presented to scientific audiences. A completed manuscript is expected by the end of FY2010. Progress was monitored through regular meetings and a written report prepared by University collaborators. This project supports Grazingland CEAP goals, addresses Component II of NP215, "Pasture Management Systems to Improve Economic Viability and Enhance the Environment", and specifically Objective J.1, "Provide improved management practices that enhance the environment and increase the economic viability of growing, harvesting, and storing forage grass and legumes for bioenergy and byproduct system" by quantifying the water quality impacts due to application of Best Management Practices and land use changes.