Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 12, 2002
Publication Date: July 16, 2002
Citation: Gburek, W.J., Kleinman, P.J., Bryant, R.B., Sharpley, A.N. 2002. Watershed management for improved water quality--The ARS Mahantango Creek watershed [Abstract]. Soil and Water Conservation Society. 57:46. Technical Abstract: The Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, USDA-ARS, University Park, PA, has as part of its mission, "to conduct research leading to the development of land, water, and plant management systems which ensure the profitability and sustainability of northeastern grazing and cropping enterprises while maintaining the quality of ground and surface waters." WE-38, a 7.3 sq-km subwatershed of East Mahantango Creek within the Susquehanna River Basin, is the primary site of a network of research sites used by the Unit across the Northeast. Located about 40 km north of Harrisburg, PA, WE-38 is typical of upland agricultural watersheds in the nonglaciated, folded and faulted Appalachian Valley and Ridge Physiographic Province, providing an ideal outdoor laboratory for exploration of surface and subsurface flow systems and the related transport of agricultural contaminants in the humid-climate upland watershed environment. Long-term hydrologic monitoring has yielded information on stream flow and water quality from the larger watershed as well as from smaller sub-catchments. Additionally, annual land use surveys combined with advances in understanding of mechanisms of runoff generation have been used to identify field, farm and watershed-scale controls on phosphorus loss from agriculture. Sustainable farming systems research in the area has highlighted the potential for whole farm nutrient balances for livestock operations - a key step in controlling non-point source nutrient losses - through precision feeding strategies that optimize use of grazing resources. Pastures that are managed to improve biodiversity can increase farm profits while providing an attractive and environmentally friendly component of the agricultural watershed.