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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objectives of this study are to: 1) Compile environmental, water quality, and agronomic data from the Leon River and Riesel watersheds and deliver to the STEWARDS data system in a compatible format; 2) Measure and quantify hydrologic and water quality effects of conservation practices and management at the field, farm, and sub-watershed scale within the Leon River and Riesel watersheds; 3) Validate, quantify uncertainties in model output, and conduct land use and climate analyses with the SWAT and ALMANAC models at field, farm, and watershed scales; 4) Provide proper output and linkages from SWAT to economic models to ensure appropriate environmental and crop yield output at spatial scales compatible with selected economic models; and 5) Extract relevant components from the ALMANAC and SWAT models for integration into the Object Modeling System (OMS) and assist in the verification of the ALMANAC and SWAT models for major agricultural regions.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
For Objective 1 we will provide data to the STEWARDS data system from the Leon River and Riesel watersheds. Data will include environmental and agronomic data, measured water quality data, and SWAT output. Socio-economic data will not be collected. Our role in Objective 2 involves quantifying the effects of conservation practices (with emphasis on nutrient and manure management) in the Leon River and Riesel watersheds. It also involves quantifying nutrient and manure management of grasses and pastures for bio-fuels at three field sites in Texas. Although several models are considered in the overall CEAP Objective 3, our focus is solely on the SWAT and ALMANAC models. SWAT will be evaluated and uncertainty analysis will be performed on varying spatial scales in the Leon and Riesel watersheds. Model development will include: 1) river basin scale processes in SWAT, 2) plant growth and land management processes in ALMANAC, and 3) linkage with remotely sensed data. Our role in Objective 4 is to provide proper output and linkages from the SWAT model to economic models. We will ensure appropriate environmental and crop yield output from SWAT at spatial scales that are compatible with the selected economic models. For Objective 5, we will extract relevant components from SWAT and ALMANAC model for integration into the Object Modeling System (OMS).

3. Progress Report:
During the life of the project, significant development and enhancements were made to the ALMANAC (Agricultural Land Management Alternatives with Numerical Assessment Criteria) and SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) models. The ALMANAC model was parameterized, modified, and validated to accurately simulate growth and biomass production of range, grass, and tree species across North America. This research was accomplished primarily to meet the objectives of the CEAP (Conservation Effects Assessment Program) National Rangeland and Pasture Assessments and in bioenergy-related projects for Department of Energy and the Office of Naval Research. Continued SWAT development and enhancement occurred during the life of the project that included new algorithms for stream sediment routing, urban management practices, on-site septic systems, landscape routing including riparian zones and wetlands, real time irrigation management, stream temperature, and channel morphology. The models are currently being applied to the CEAP National Cropland Assessment, with reports on the impact of USDA conservation policy for all major cropland river basins in the U.S. nearing completion. The ALMANAC and SWAT models are also being used in an assessment of bioenergy production in Hawaii in a project for the Office of Naval Research. The research focused on production and environmental sustainability of bioenergy feedstocks on the Hawaii Commercial & Sugar Company plantation in Maui. Hydrologic and water quality impacts of conservation practices and management were quantified at the Riesel and Leon River Watersheds. Data collection, experimental analysis, and public outreach were substantially advanced regarding application of poultry litter and proper fertilizer management in both watersheds. Significant advances were made in quantifying the uncertainty in measured hydrologic and water quality data. Algorithms were also developed to quantify the uncertainty in model output, thus increasing policy makers' confidence in proper decision making.

4. Accomplishments
1. Model development to support national conservation assessment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state environmental agencies have identified approximately 15,000 water quality-impaired water bodies in the U.S. At the same time, USDA is mandated to conduct a thorough analysis of the risks and benefits of USDA's conservation programs to human health, safety, and environment; determine alternative ways of reducing risk; and conduct cost-benefit assessments. New algorithms were developed for a river basin scale model called SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) to simulate real time irrigation management, fate and transport of hormones and antibiotics, and the reduction in glacier volumes. As part of the CEAP (Conservation Effects Assessment Program) National Cropland Assessment, SWAT was validated at more than 40 USGS (United States Geological Survey) stream gauges across the U.S. to assure realistic simulation of streamflow, sediment, nutrient, and atrazine loads. Final SWAT validation and scenario analysis was completed for the Missouri River basin, the Arkansas-Red River basins, and the Texas Gulf basins. The scenario runs from this model were used to identify optimum placement of conservation practices in the Mississippi River Basin to minimize the flux of nitrogen and phosphorus into the Gulf of Mexico, thus limiting the extent of the hypoxic zone. As part of the CEAP National Rangeland Assessment, plant parameters for western range species were developed, and the ALMANAC model was tested against biomass production from NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) Ecological Site Descriptions.

Review Publications
Kiniry, J.R., Johnson, M., Bruckerhoff, S.B., Kaiser, J.U., Cordsiemon, R.L., Harmel, R.D. 2012. Clash of the Titans: Comparing productivity via radiation use efficiency for two grass giants of the biofuel field. BioEnergy Research. 5(1):41-48.

Arnold, J.G., Allen, P.M., Volk, M., Williams, J.R., Bosch, D.D. 2010. Assessment of different representations of spatial variability on SWAT model performance. Transactions of the ASABE. 53(5):1433-1443.

Moriasi, D.N., Arnold, J.G., Vazquez-Amabile, G.G., Engel, B.A. 2011. Shallow water table depth algorithm in SWAT: Recent developments. Transactions of the ASABE. 54(5):1705-1711.

Zhang, X., Srinivasan, R., Arnold, J.G., Izaurralde, R.C., Bosch, D.D. 2011. Simultaneous calibration of surface flow and baseflow simulations: A revisit of the SWAT model calibration framework. Hydrological Processes. 25(14):2313-2320.

Whittaker, G.W., Confesor, R., DiLuzio, M.D., Arnold, J.G. 2010. Detection of overparameterization and overfitting in an automatic calibration of SWAT. Transactions of the ASABE. 53:1487-1499.

Beeson, P.C., Doraiswamy, P.C., Sadeghi, A.M., Di Luzio, M., Tomer, M.D., Arnold, J.G., Daughtry, C.S. 2011. Treatments of Precipitation Inputs to Hydrologic Models: Guages and NEXRAD. Transactions of the ASABE. 54(6):2011-2020.

Johnson, M., Kiniry, J.R., Burson, B.L. 2010. Ceptometer deployment method affects measurement of fraction of intercepted photosynthetically active radiation. Agronomy Journal. 102(4):1132-1137.

Sanderson, M.A., Goslee, S.C., Franzluebbers, A.J., Kiniry, J.R., Owens, L.B., Spaeth, K., Steiner, J.L., Veith, T.L. 2011. Pastureland Conservation Effects Assessment Project: Status and expected outcomes. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 66(5):148A-153A.

Finzel, J.A., Seyfried, M.S., Weltz, M.A., Kiniry, J.R., Johnson, M.V.V., Launchbaugh, K.L. 2012. Indirect measurement of leaf area index in sagebrush-steppe rangelands. Rangeland Ecology and Management. 65:208-212.

Licciardello, F., Rossi, C.G., Srinivasan, R., Zimbone, S.M., Barbagallo, S. 2011. Hydrologic evaluation of a Mediterranean watershed using the SWAT model with multiple PET estimation methods. Transactions of the ASABE. 54(5):1615:1625.

White, M.J., Storm, D.E., Busteed, P.R., Matlock, M.D., West, R.R. 2011. Evaluating potential phosphorus management impacts in the Lake Eucha Basin using SWAT. Transactions of the ASABE. 54(3):827-835.

Rossi, C.G., Dybala, T.J., Amonett, C., Arnold, J.G., Marek, T. 2012. Manure nutrient management effects in the Leon River Watershed. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 67(3):147-157.

Last Modified: 2/23/2016
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