WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT FROM MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN AGRICULTURAL WATERSHEDS
Location: Agroecosystems Management Research Unit
Title: Runoff and sediment reduction from integration of native prairie filter strips into row-crop agriculture
Submitted to: Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 6, 2012
Publication Date: December 7, 2012
Citation: Helmers, M.J., Tomer, M.D., Asbjornsen, H. 2012. Runoff and sediment reduction from integration of native prairie filter strips into row-crop agriculture [abstract]. Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference. CD-ROM.
Agroecosystems provide multiple benefits including food, fiber, fuel, clean water and air, habitat, carbon sequestration, recreation, and aesthetics. But most agricultural landscapes are managed for only a few of these benefits. This project aimed to evaluate how the integration of diverse perennial plantings with row-crop agriculture can provide multiple ecosystem services. A replicated small-watershed experiment was implemented at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa, involving 14 small watersheds, and five treatments with varying proportions and placements of native prairie plantings. Pretreatment data were collected for two years, then treatments were established in 2007. Treatment effects on hydrological, ecological, and socioeconomic variables will be evaluated through 2014. Early results highlight the benefits of perennial filter strips for attenuating runoff and reducing sediment loads, to be detailed in the presentation. Moving forward, the project aims to answer crucial agro-environmental questions such as: Can small amounts of perennial plant cover in agricultural landscapes conserve native species, and improve biological control of agricultural pests? Does increased perennial cover improve soil fertility and carbon sequestration? How much compensation do farmers need to install perennial strips? What is society willing to pay for these benefits? In the long-term, this research will improve knowledge amongst producers, managers, and policy makers to better manage agricultural lands for crop yield and ecosystem services. The project is led by an interdisciplinary team of 14 scientists from 5 different institutions and 7 academic departments, with guidance from a Stakeholder Advisory Committee with representatives from 15 different organizations.