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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MODELING COST-EFFECTIVE FARM MANAGEMENT TO IMPROVE CHESAPEAKE BAY WATER QUALITY
2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
To minimize downstream nutrient loss in a Chesapeake Bay subwatershed by identifying and encouraging strategic, cost-effective combinations of farm management practices and technologies.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Whole-farm and watershed-level models, such as the Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) will be used to simulate current farm and watershed conditions in the Conewago Watershed in PA. This watershed drains to the Chesapeake Bay and is becoming a focus watershed for a range of research groups on how to more effectively and efficiently control nonpoint source pollution within the Bay catchment. The economic and environmental impact of various agriculturally-based, nonpoint source control combinations will be simulated using the above models in conjunction with literature findings and simple mathematical models. Evaluation of results will include consideration of the predictive and estimated uncertainty of major variables within the natural system. These evaluations will provide comparative efficiencies of various management combinations on protecting and improving water quality within the Chesapeake Bay. Results will be transferred to stakeholders through connections with Penn State Extension.


3.Progress Report

This work contributes to Objective 3 of the in-house project, which is to validate models and quantify uncertainties of model predictions at multiple scales by comparing predictions to measured water, soil, and management effects of conservation practices. This work also contributes to the effort under the Conservation Assessment Effects Project (CEAP) to evaluate the impact of current and proposed agricultural management practices on downstream water quality.

A qualified graduate student pursuing a M.S. program in Agricultural and Biological Engineering has been hired to work on this project. The student will begin on August 23, 2010 and will generally dedicate 20hrs/week towards this project.

Basic information about the Conewago Watershed has been gathered. Potentially synergistic projects underway or in final planning stages in the Conewago as well as in other Chesapeake Bay subwatersheds have been identified. The most beneficial subwatershed, in terms of research and technology transfer, is in the process of being identified and will be confirmed in early fall as the student begins locating and obtaining necessary physical data.

This project is monitored through regular communication with the Penn State collaborator by email, phone calls, and a few meetings per year specifically used to discuss progress of the work. Thus far, only in-house resources from both parties in time and supplies have been spent. As of June 1, 2010 there have been no expenditures to be reimbursed by ARS to PSU.


Last Modified: 10/30/2014
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