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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Water Quality and Biogeochemical Processes Associated with Cultivated and Non-Cultivated Grassed Areas in a Poorly Drained Landscape

Author
item Griffith, Stephen

Submitted to: California Native Grass Association Meetings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 31, 2004
Publication Date: April 12, 2004
Citation: Griffith, S.M. 2004. Water quality and biogeochemical processes associated with cultivated and non-cultivated grassed areas in a poorly drained landscape. In: Proceedings of the California Native Grass Association Conference. Native Grasses and Graminoids:Tools for Protecting Water Quality, April 23, 2004, Modesto, California. p.9.

Interpretive Summary: Grass seed agriculture comprises 55% of Willamette Valley, OR land-use and much of it is conducted on poorly drained soil. Due to the close association of dissecting waterways through the landscape, water quality can be directly impacted by farm practices and the effectiveness of soil and vegetation along waterways to improve water quality. Grasses and forbs or deciduous forest vegetation dominates Willamette Valley riparian areas adjacent to farmland. We found that both streamside vegetation and soil type influence water quality. Water quality is affected by plant uptake of nutrients and the action of soil organisms. The drainage characteristics of the soil also impacts water quality. The interaction among plants, soil hydrology, and soil chemical processes will be discussed and conclusions presented with regard to the role of farmland and riparian areas in changing ground and stream water quality.

Technical Abstract: Grass seed agriculture comprises 55% of Willamette Valley, OR land-use and much of it is conducted on poorly drained soil. Due to the close association of dissecting waterways through the landscape, water quality can be directly impacted by farm practices and the effectiveness of riparian buffers. Grasses and forbs or deciduous forest vegetation dominates Willamette Valley riparian areas adjacent to farmland. We found that both riparian vegetation and soil type influence water quality. In some cases, the perennial grass crops themselves provide adequate riparian-like function in the absence of buffer zones. Changes in water chemistry were due to striking differences in the hydrology and biogeochemistry of the poorly- and well-drained riparian areas and the type and growth characteristics of the vegetation present. The interaction among plants and soil processes will be discussed and conclusions presented with regard to the role of the riparian areas in attenuating nutrient flux from adjacent grass seed production fields. Plant uptake, hydrology, and soil microbial processes all play a role in affecting water quality.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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