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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT OF ALTERNATIVE PRACTICES FOR IMPROVED WATERSHED MANAGEMENT

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: Evaluation and Targeting of Soil and Water Conservation Practices in the Goodwater Creek Watershed

Authors
item BAFFAUT, CLAIRE
item Broz, Robert -
item Anderson, Stephen -
item Rikoon, James -
item LERCH, ROBERT
item Mccann, Laura -
item SADLER, EDWARD
item Mudgal, Ashish -
item O'Donnell, Thomas -

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 29, 2010
Publication Date: January 31, 2011
Citation: Baffaut, C., Broz, R., Anderson, S.H., Rikoon, J.S., Lerch, R.N., Mccann, L., Sadler, E.J., Mudgal, A., O'Donnell, T.K. 2011. Evaluation and Targeting of Soil and Water Conservation Practices in the Goodwater Creek Watershed [abstract]. 2011 Land Grant and Sea Grant National Water Conference, January 31-February 1, 2011, Washington, D.C. Available: http://www.usawaterquality.org/conferences/2011/default.html.

Technical Abstract: The objective of our research was to identify how conservation practices, their biophysical settings, and the socio/economic constraints interact to affect water quality in the Goodwater Creek Experimental Watershed. Analysis of fifteen years of flow and water quality data showed that soil and water conservation practices, mostly terraces and grass waterways, implemented on 14% of the watershed have not produced a decrease in herbicide or nitrate-N loads. Modeling studies indicated that the most vulnerable areas were located along the lowest half of the steepest slopes on either side of the stream where the claypan, an argillic horizon that restricts infiltration, is closest to the surface. Building terraces or grass waterways on 25% of that most vulnerable cropland would significantly reduce sediment and phosphorus loads but not other dissolved pollutant loads. At least 19% and 29% of row cropped fields in the most vulnerable areas would need to be treated with 15-m vegetative filter strips to produce detectable decreases of atrazine and nitrate-N loads, respectively. In comparison, only half of existing conservation practices have been implemented in the most vulnerable areas. Among the factors that drive the implementation of a practice, evidence of degradation and land stewardship (doing the right thing) were the most influential for all cropland practices. These factors interact with time and labor issues, weather related constraints, and costs, which can lead producers to discontinue a practice. Furthermore, tradeoffs exist between decreased tillage to control erosion and incorporation, which is effective for limiting herbicide transport. Maps of vulnerable areas were useful to resource managers responsible for the allocation of conservation funds. A management plan, drafted with input from farmers and natural resources managers, was shared with major chemical dealers. Further efforts are necessary to develop tillage equipment that incorporates chemicals without disturbing surface residues.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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