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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Area Project

Authors
item Knight, Scott
item Rebich, R - USGS
item Smith Jr, Sammie
item Schreiber, Jonathon
item Locke, Martin
item Hanks, James

Submitted to: Nonpoint Pollution Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: December 19, 2002
Publication Date: December 31, 2002
Citation: Knight, S.S., Rebich, R.A., Smith Jr, S., Schreiber, J.D., Locke, M.A., Hanks, J.E. 2002. The Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Area Project. Sixth International Conference on Diffuse Pollution, pp. 471-478.

Interpretive Summary: Globally, agricultural lands are considered to be a major source of nonpoint source pollutants such as sediment, pesticides and nutrients in the United States. To solve problems caused by this pollution, the Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Areas (MDMSEA) project was created and designed to use working farms to evaluate pollutants in water resources and to identify "Best Management Practices" that are most effective in reducing the transport of those pollutants in surface and ground water. In the first five years, six of the major accomplishments out of more than one hundred findings include: (1) BMPs reduced sediment in MDMSEA lakes, resulting in improved water clarity, plankton growth, and fish stocks; (2) Phosphorus, a major lake water pollutant was decreased using BMPs; (3) Pesticides were shown not to be a problem in ground water; (4) Conservation tillage and cover crops were shown to be very effective in reducing pollution (5) Herbicide was reduced using sensor sprayer technology; and (6) Riparian areas were effective in trapping sediment and breaking down of pesticides. This information validates the effectiveness of Natural Resources Conservation Service recommended practices and will be used by US Environmental Protection Agency and state departments of environmental quality for Total Maximum Daily Load development.

Technical Abstract: Globally, agricultural lands are considered to be a major source of nonpoint source pollutants such as sediment, pesticides and nutrients in the United States. In the United States, national laws such as the Clean Water Act recognize specific agricultural practices known as "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) as the preferred methods to reduce nonpoint source pollution. A consortium of Federal, State, local and university representatives was formed to develop the Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Areas (MDMSEA) project. The MDMSEA project was designed to utilize working farms to evaluate primary pollutants in water resources and to identify "Best Management Practices" that are most effective in reducing the transport of those pollutants in surface and ground water on a watershed scale. In the first five years, six of the major accomplishments out of more than one hundred findings include: (1) BMPs reduced sediment in MDMSEA lakes, resulting in improved water clarity, plankton growth, and fish stocks; (2) Total phosphorus in lakes decreased between 39 to 50% following BMP implementation; (3) Pesticides were detected in only five of 622 ground water samples with BMP implementation; (4) Conservation tillage and cover crops reduced NO3-N losses by 73%, sediment losses by 70% and fluometuron herbicide loss in runoff by 50%; (5) Glyphosate application was reduced 50 to 70% when sensor sprayer technology was used; and (6) Riparian areas mitigated the transport of sediment in runoff and enhanced the degradation of pesticides. The project continues to demonstrate that lake water quality can be improved for fish and wildlife habitat and BMPs can be designed to address other Mississippi Delta water quality issues.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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