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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: How Good Is Good Enough? What Information Is Needed for Agricultural Water Quality Planning and How Can It Be Provided Most Affordably? 1348

Authors
item Heilman, Philip
item Hatfield, Jerry
item Rojas, Kenneth
item Ma, Liwang
item Huddleston, J. - NRCS
item Ahuja, Lajpat
item Adkins, M. - NRCS

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2002
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: There is a growing need for scientific information to address water quality issues across the United States. When planning for water quality problems turns to implementation, there will be a very apparent need for field scale information, as fields are the unit on which agricultural land management decisions are ultimately made. Because of the currently unmet need, watershed managers should consider new approaches to providing that information to farmers. The approach presented in this paper is based on a number of long term research efforts on water quality. The Management System Evaluation Areas are heavily instrumented research areas across the Midwest that will provide observed data. The Rootzone Water Quality Model is a state of the art water quality model that will extend the observe results to other soils and management systems. An integrated tool to systematically simulate a number of alternative management systems and quality check the results will facilitate building a field scale database that provides quantified estimates of management system effects over large areas. The simulation results will then be put into a database for use in conservation planning over wide areas. Field scale decisions can be made with using the information in the database and a multiobjective decision support system.

Technical Abstract: An important measure of the quality of agricultural research and technical assistance is the quality of information that is widely available to agricultural producers. Producers would like field scale information that documents, in an integrated manner, the effects of a range of management systems on all resources of concern, including economic returns. The appropriate way to provide this information is to extend observed data using simulation models. However, Conservationists generally do not have the time or skills to regularly perform such integrated modeling. The approach presented in this paper builds on three long term research efforts, the Management System Evaluation Areas for observed data, the Rootzone Water Quality Model, and a Water Quality Decision Support System. Specifically, the solution presented is the development of tools so that a modeling specialist could create a database of management system effects on nrepresentative fields. Before being used, the data in the database would have to be quality reviewed by experts. The effort to populate the database is likely to lead to suggestions for both model improvement and additional monitoring. Once the database is populated, Conservationists could use a Decision Support System to educate farmers on the effects of different management systems to help the farmers to select less polluting alternatives.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014