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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Conservation Effects Assessment Project Croplands Watersheds Studies - Upper Mississippi River Basin/great Lakes Watersheds (2012)

Location: Soil Drainage Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Problems to be addressed through this agreement include the following four areas: 1. Improving our understanding of the aggregate effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale; 2. Improving our ability to select and place conservation practices on the landscape for maximum effectiveness; 3. Improving conservation practices to better protect water resources; and 4. Maintaining the effectiveness of conservation practices under changing climate and land use.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Improving our understanding of the aggregate effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale: 1. Field studies to develop remote sensing tools to better evaluate cover crop performance (CB/ACP). 2. Develop models/decision support tools to assess the effectiveness of cover crops (CB/ACP) and other BMP’s (All) at the watershed scale. 3. Enhance the landscape version of SWAT to better represent field-to-basin scale processes (All). Improving our ability to select and place conservation practices on the landscape for maximum effectiveness: 1. Develop mapping techniques for placing specific practices within watersheds based on terrain and soils data. 2. Develop methods of terrain analysis for improved mapping of soil wetness in glacial terrain. 3. Validate the CEAP National Assessment conducted with SWAT at multiple scales. 4. Assess and compare the trade-offs of no-till adoption, and support the development of nutrient management recommendations for water quality protection, at the watershed scale. Improving conservation practices to better protect water resources: 1. Quantify nutrient management effects on water quality at field and watershed scales. 2. Watershed scale studies to systematically validate phosphorus site assessment tools in support of NRCS 590 (nutrient management) standard. 3. Watershed scale assessment of combined conservation practices. Maintaining the effectiveness of conservation practices under changing climate and land use: 1. Use reservoir sedimentation, land use change, and climate information to anticipate future reservoir sedimentation and needs for additional conservation under changing climate. 2. Enhance SWAT model routines for urban landscape BMPs. 3. Apply erosion (WEPP, etc.) and water quality (WEPP-WQ, etc.)


3.Progress Report:

We continue to make progress on quantifying the impacts of conservation practices at the watershed scale in support of the national Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). Currently, cover crops are being promoted at the edge-of-field and watershed scale locations where hydrology and water quality instrumentation are in place. The promotion of cover crops is through a Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI) grant. Practices associated with the 4R (right form, right place, right amount, right time) approach are also being investigated at the edge-of-field sites. In addition to the water quality research, progress continues to be made on assessing aquatic communities and habitats in differing headwater streams within the watershed. Data is made available through the STEWARDS database.

The work and progress associated with this project support objective 1 of the parent project, specifically sub-objective 1a: Quantify the influence of conservation practices on surface discharge and water chemistry in the agricultural landscape.


Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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