WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT FROM MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN AGRICULTURAL WATERSHEDS
Location: Agroecosystems Management Research Unit
Title: Extending the Concept of Precision Conservation to Restoration of Rivers and Streams
Submitted to: International Conference on Precision Agriculture Abstracts & Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 3, 2010
Publication Date: July 22, 2010
Citation: Tomer, M.D., James, D.E., Bean, J.R., Simon, A., Klimetz Ii, P.D., Gelder, B., Yan, B. 2010. Extending the Concept of Precision Conservation to Restoration of Rivers and Streams. In: International Conference on Precision Agriculture Abstracts & Proceedings, July 18-21, 2010, Denver, CO. 2010 CD-ROM.
Comprehensive water quality management in watersheds involves management of upland and riparian environments. Efforts to optimize environmental performance of agriculture through field-scale precision conservation should be complemented with riparian restorations to enhance capacities to assimilate contaminants and provide other ecosystem services. This paper’s objective is to illustrate GIS technologies for management of riparian systems. Across the US, many agricultural streams and rivers are still in the midst of long-term geomorphic responses to hydrologic changes that accompanied agricultural settlement. These changes include artificial drainage systems, sediment accretion in valleys, stream straightening, and decreased transpiration by crops compared to native plant communities. These changes have caused increases in nutrient loadings, discharge and/or discharge velocities, and channel down-cutting and/or stream bank erosion. Our understanding of these geomorphic processes is well developed. However our capacity to manage these processes is limited not only because of the costs involved with many types of interventions, but also because mangers lack the tools to effectively target their efforts from a watershed perspective. GIS technologies could be developed to ensure that the types of restoration practices and the locations they are implemented are chosen based on economic and geomorphic criteria, thus increasing the likelihood of positive cost-benefit outcomes from restoration efforts. This paper illustrates several examples employing LiDAR topographic data, historical aerial photographs, and field surveys. Placement of wetlands, buffers riffles, drainage modifications, bank stabilization, and re-meandering are among the suite of potential tools for improved management of hydrology, riparian ecosystems, and stream geomorphology.