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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Quantify Potential Nitrate Leaching to Groundwater from Agriculture in Southern Idaho

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Project Number: 2054-13000-008-06-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 1, 2013
End Date: Jun 30, 2015

The project will be jointly funded by the Independent Dairy Environmental Action League (IDEAL) and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Separate objectives have not been developed for IDEAL and DEQ. The main focus of this research project is to estimate potential nitrogen losses from the soil root zone in irrigated crop fields and from dairy farms in southern Idaho. The nutrient budgets will be used to identify the relative magnitude of losses from various nitrogen sources so management practices can be appropriately applied to reduce these losses. The specific objectives are: 1. Estimate nutrient budgets for dairy farms in southern Idaho. 2. Estimate nutrient budgets for crop fields in southern Idaho. 3. Use simulation models to estimate nitrogen losses from agricultural sources. 4. Monitor water quality in select springs and wells in southern Idaho.

Objectives 1 and 2 will involve data collection from dairy farms and crop fields. We plan to measure nutrient budgets on four dairies and six to eight irrigated fields in southern Idaho. This information will be used to calculate potential nutrient losses and validate simulation models. The Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) and Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) will be used in Objective 3 to predict nitrogen losses for various conditions and practices to provide a more comprehensive estimate of nitrogen losses from agriculture in southern Idaho. Water quality monitoring in springs and wells will be used to identify current water quality trends and establish a baseline to assess the impacts of future management practices. Water quality sampling will include isotope analysis to indicate nitrate sources and seasonal impacts of losses from irrigation canals. The total budget for the proposed project is $307,500. The project will be primarily funded by the Independent Dairy Environmental Action League ($232,500). Idaho Department of Environmental Quality will fund $25,000 per year for three years ($75,000 total), with funding for years 2 and 3 subject future appropriations.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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