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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Monitoring Edge-of-Field Surface-Water Runoff: a Three-State Pilot Project to Promote and Evaluate An Inexpensive and Reliable Gauge Project Number: 5030-13000-010-24
Project Type: Reimbursable

Start Date: Nov 01, 2012
End Date: Sep 15, 2015

Demonstrate an innovative, inexpensive edge-of-field surface-water gauging station to evaluate the effects of conservation practices to manage nutrient losses at the field scale.

NRCS Interim Conservation Practice Standard Code 799 (Monitoring and Evaluation) enables producers to fund a variety of monitoring activities, including edge-of-field runoff. The interim NRCS standard provides challenges of purchasing, installing, and operating surface-water gauging station within the cost-share limitations. This project will develop low-cost monitoring techniques to fulfill the monitoring needs at the field scale. Cost reductions have been achieved with single purpose equipment and sacrifice of some accuracy to reduce installation, operation, and maintenance costs by more than 80%. The new HXL-flume designed being tested at UW-P has advantages for monitoring large discharges at low stage (water depth), which reduces because the need to install berms that direct water flows through the flume and alters flow dynamics that impact site maintenance issues favorably, at the cost of a wider control section with less accuracy than the standard H flume. Operational costs will be reduced because components are designed to be “plug-and-play”, eliminating wiring complexity and greatly reducing technical training and skill required for gauge operation. Some design modifications will result in higher quality data, including multiple stage sensors to monitor depth in the flume and tail-water area for more accurate flow measurements during submerged conditions that are common during snowmelt, and inexpensive redundancies for data backup. Passive samplers will collect runoff samples that can be used if automated sampler pumps fail; and backup. These alternate design requires research that includes experimental methods, databases and a quality assurance plan. NLAE funding is to provide sample analyses for nutrients and sediment for the research. ARS SY will act as the Iowa contact for this three state project in which these experimental gauges will be tested against standard design and evaluated in several conservation practice settings.

Last Modified: 11/28/2015
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