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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MAKING NEEDED ECOSYSTEM SERVICES PAY IN AN AGRICULTURAL WATERSHED

Location: Soil Management Research

2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1. Build integrated models to predict the impact of targeted land-use changes on managed and natural ecosystem services and to mitigate effects of environmental stressors on these systems in the Chippewa River Watershed (CRW). 2. Develop robust and transferable approaches based on principles of multifunctional agriculture to identify environmentally-friendly and economically-viable land-use changes with synergistic positive impacts at the farm and landscape levels.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
1. We will utilize simulation models (Agricultural Production Systems Simulator, APSIM, and Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer, DSSAT) that can integrate predictions based on climate change (Hadley Center Coupled Model, HadCM3), General Circulation Model (GCM) and whole-farm systems modeling for strategic and tactical planning at the farm and watershed levels in the CRW. This will lead to improved understanding of site-specific impact of climate, soil types, and management on agricultural production and will be extrapolated to the watershed level using GIS technology. Currently existing databases compiled by NCSCRL from on-station (8 years) and on-farm (4 years) on traditional and alternative cropping systems, including organic cropping systems and perennial biomass crops will be utilized to calibrate field- and watershed-level simulation models and to develop necessary inputs for the SWAT applications. Additional data will be collected from the same experimental plots and farmers' fields during the duration of the project. The databases include detailed quantitative measurements on crops, soils, nutrients, (mainly C, N and P, and micronutrients), water and residues. Additionally, data on the impact of management practices (e.g., tillage implements, timing and frequency), on crops and soils is also available in electronic formats. 2. The simulation procedure to be used allows for point-based models (e.g., a field or experimental plots) to be instantiated multiple times within a single simulation, with communication of data between each discrete point in space. The final output will be linked using GIS technology for planning purposes. All raw data on climate, crops, soils, and current and alternative management practices are available for the research farm of NCSCRL and for 4 farms in or close to the CRW. 3. The output of the proposed research at NCSCRL will provide input(s) to be utilized by the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) team to assess the impact of land management practices on water, sediment and agricultural chemical yields in the complex CRW basin with varying soil types, land use and management conditions. The simulation study at NCSCRL will test two interrelated hypotheses: (1) Meditating water flow at landscape level will help sustain managed and natural ecosystems through increased biodiversity, habitat-carrying capacity and better water quality, and (2) Increasing perennial land-use will improve environmental health through reduced run-off and soil erosion, biodiversity and habitat and sustained carbon sequestration.


3.Progress Report

We utilized the Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM 7.3) that integrates modules of cropping, management, and biophysical processes within farming systems to develop decision support system of value to farmers in the Chippewa River watershed in Minnesota. We selected representative soil series and production systems within the watershed and obtained historical and simulated weather data based on three global circulation models. A database derived from on-station and on-farm research on traditional and alternative cropping systems, including perennial biomass crops, was expanded to include additional information on alternative crops and their response to simulated weather variables. Preliminary results were presented at a meeting of the advisory group of the project and a manuscript was developed and accepted for presentation and publications in the proceedings of "The Fourth Interagency Conference on Research in the watersheds." This project links to Objective 2 from the parent project: Evaluate multiple cropping systems to develop optimal management practices for biomass utilization of crops that will diversify the landscape and maintain or enhance soil productivity.


Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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