UNDERSTANDING AND PREDICTING THE IMPACT OF AGRICULTURE ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY OF MANAGED WATERSHEDS
Location: Water Quality and Ecology Research
Title: Model development for evaluating USDA Conservation practices
Submitted to: Proceedings of the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 2008
Publication Date: May 12, 2008
Citation: Ascough, II, J.C., Romkens, M.J. 2008. Model development for evaluating USDA Conservation practices. Proceedings of the ASCE World Environmental and Water Resources Congress Conference. May 12-18,2008. Honolulu, HI. CD-ROM.
Interpretive Summary: The Natural Resources Conservation Service has, over the years, administered many conservation programs to prevent land degradation and to improve soil and water quality. However, many of these programs have not been evaluated relative to their effectiveness and efficiency. The multitude, complexity, and variations in environmental hazards and watershed conditions require that generic models be developed which allow rapid assessment and implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) in support of these programs. The models must be applicable to a wide range of landscapes and land uses. The Conservation Effect Assessment Project (CEAP) was designed to address this need. One of its objectives is to assemble and integrate modules that describe dominant-component processes operative in a specific problem area under consideration. This regionalization approach is being accomplished under the Objective Modular System (OMS) that is under development. With the OMS, models can be developed using interchangeable modules, each of which describes a specific process encountered in the problem area. This paper presents a brief overview of the CEAP project and the OMS framework used in this approach.
For many years the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), has administered conservation programs to protect million of acres of land from degradation and to enforce environmental quality. The impact, effectiveness, and efficiency of these programs have not been quantified. The USDA-NRCS has been instructed to quantify the existing environmental programs and/or design new programs to more effectively and efficiently meet the conservation goals of the U.S. Congress. Therefore, the NRCS and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are currently leading a project to quantify the effects of the USDA conservation programs. The project, known as the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP), has two major components: (1) a National Assessment that will be conducted using NRCS data and watershed scale models developed by the ARS, and (2) the Watershed Assessment Study (WAS) which is concerned with detailed assessment of conservation programs on selected watersheds. The National Assessment will provide estimates of conservation benefits at a national scale. Two ARS models have been identified to make this assessment: SWAT (Soil Water Assessment Tool) and AnnAGNPS (ANNualized AGricultural Non-Point Source). The National Assessment approach is to provide state-of-the art modeling capability for estimating conservation effects on a regional basis. The Object Modeling System (OMS) will be used to assist the development of these regionalized models. This system is in effect a modular modeling framework containing a library of simulation modules describing specific component processes. Depending on the nature of the dominant processes, components can be assembled under the OMS into a regionalized watershed model that best reflects the critical problems of the region under consideration. This presentation will discuss in broad outlines the CEAP program and the development of the OMS framework for use in regionalized watershed model development.