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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: UNDERSTANDING AND PREDICTING THE IMPACT OF AGRICULTURE ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY OF MANAGED WATERSHEDS

Location: Water Quality and Ecology Research

Title: Assessment of subsurface drainage management practices to reduce nitrogen loadings using AnnAGNPS

Authors
item Yuan, Yongping -
item Bingner, Ronald
item Locke, Martin
item Theurer, Fred -
item Stafford, Jim -

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 18, 2011
Publication Date: July 1, 2011
Citation: Yuan, Y., Bingner, R.L., Locke, M.A., Theurer, F.D., Stafford, J. 2011. Assessment of subsurface drainage management practices to reduce nitrogen loadings using AnnAGNPS. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 27(3):335-344.

Interpretive Summary: The goal of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Future Midwest Landscape project is to quantify current and future landscape services across the Midwest region and examine changes expected to occur as a result of two alternative drivers of future change: the growing demand for biofuels; and hypothetical increases in incentives for the use of agricultural conservation practices to mitigate the adverse impact caused by the growing demand for biofuels. Nitrogen losses to surface waters are of great concern on both national and regional scales. Therefore, the overall objective of this study was to assess the agricultural management alternatives for nutrient loading reduction. To achieve the overall objective of this study, the USDA Annualized Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution model was applied to the Ohio Upper Auglaize watershed, which is located in the southern portion of the Maumee River Basin. This watershed is also part of the USDA-NRCS Conservation Effects Assessment Project Special Emphasis effort with the objective to assess the effects of agricultural conservation practices on water quality. In this study, the model was calibrated using USGS monitored data; and then the effects of various subsurface drainage management practices on nitrogen loadings were assessed. Wider drain spacing and shallower depths to drain can be used to reduce nitrogen loadings. In addition, nitrogen loadings could be significantly reduced by plugging subsurface drains from November 1 to April 1 of each year. Effective subsurface drainage management can be utilized as a conservation management practice that would have a substantial impact on reducing nutrient loading within drained watersheds.

Technical Abstract: The goal of the Future Midwest Landscape project is to quantify current and future landscape services across the region and examine changes expected to occur as a result of two alternative drivers of future change: the growing demand for biofuels; and hypothetical increases in incentives for the use of agricultural conservation practices to mitigate the adverse impact caused by the growing demand for biofuels. Nitrogen losses to surface waters are of great concern on both national and regional scales. Therefore, the overall objective of this study was to assess the agricultural management alternatives for nutrient loading reduction. To achieve the overall objective of this study, the USDA Annualized Agricultural Non-Point Source Pollution model was applied to the Ohio Upper Auglaize watershed, which is located in the southern portion of the Maumee River Basin. This watershed is also part of the USDA-NRCS Conservation Effects Assessment Project Special Emphasis effort with the objective to assess the effects of agricultural conservation practices on water quality. In this study, AnnAGNPS model was calibrated using USGS monitored data; and then the effects of various subsurface drainage management practices on nitrogen loadings were assessed. Wider drain spacing and shallower depths to drain can be used to reduce nitrogen loadings. In addition, nitrogen loadings could be significantly reduced by plugging subsurface drains from November 1 to April 1 of each year.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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