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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION EFFECTS ASSESSMENT PROJECT (CEAP) (2011) - ARS BENCHMARK WATERSHED STUDIES

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Principal focus of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) Watershed Studies is to evaluate the effects and benefits of conservation practices at the watershed scale, in support of policy decisions and program implementation.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The effects of conservation activities on water and soil quality will be assessed at the watershed scale using models such as ARS’ Soil and Water Assessment Tool, in combination with ARS long-term watershed data sets, expertise, and resources.


3.Progress Report:

The principal focus of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) Watershed Studies is to evaluate the effects and benefits of conservation practices at the watershed scale, in support of policy decisions and program implementation.

Work under this cooperative agreement includes routine site maintenance and data collection activities. We continue to collect data at nine supercritical flumes within Goodwin Creek. Parameters measured include stage, discharge, precipitation, and sediment concentration. To improve resolution of low flow conditions, additional pressure transducers have been fitted into the flumes to supplement acoustic stage measurements.

We continue to monitor sediment concentrations during storm events throughout Goodwin Creek. During this last 12 months, we have assessed particle size distribution in 570 water samples.

To improve the quality of rain gauge data, the entire 27 rain gauge network was inspected and retrofitted with a quick-adjustment leveling platforms. This will allow technicians to easily correct an out-of-level rain gauge. Post leveling, all rain gauges were recalibrated to they meet specification.

We continue to maintain and support the NRCS Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) and NOAA Surface Radiation Network (SURFRAD) weather stations located at site 50. To supplement measurements taken at this site, we have entered an agreement with a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona to install and maintain a new soil moisture sensor at site 50. The Cosmic-ray Soil Moisture Observing System (COSMOS) sensor is designed to measure fast neutrons in the atmosphere. The abundance of fast neutrons is proportional to soil moisture. This method provides average soil moisture over an approximately 34 hectare area.

To improve of understanding of management practices at the field scale, we have collaborated with the USDA NRCS and Panola County, MS, Soil and Water Conservation District to contact landowners within the Goodwin Creek watershed in order to determine their individual management practices. The NRCS has agreed to make direct contact with the individual landowners and provide us with aggregated data which will protect the personally identifiable information of the landowners. Questions are being designed specifically to provide land use information suitable for computer based runoff and erosion models and will track parameters such as crop rotation, tillage, amendments, grazing, and forestry practices.

To facilitate integration of the land use information gathered in this collaborative effort, we have recruited a student from the University of Mississippi to provide geographic information system (GIS) expertise on this project. Her efforts have greatly improved the historical land use database and she is currently developing mailing packets containing questionnaires for individual land owners.

Goodwin Creek continues to be a resource for scientist at the National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL) and elsewhere. A new instrument designed to measure sediment size in-situ has been deployed near site 2. Advanced survey techniques are being used to monitor stream evolution through a remediated section of Goodwin Creek. NSL personnel met with researchers from Tuskegee University, Alabama, and discussed operations at Goodwin Creek and how these techniques could serve as a model for new research at Tuskegee.

Finally, we have received multiple data request from U.S. and international researchers who are currently using the Goodwin Creek online databases to calibrate and validate computer models. To enhance the availability of online data, we continue to upload current and historic data collected at Goodwin Creek to the USDA Sustaining the Earths Watersheds Agricultural Research Data System (STEWARDS) database.


Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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