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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Research Project #425009

Research Project: Water and Nutrient Management of Cranberry Farms to Enhance Water Resources In Massachusetts

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Project Number: 8070-13000-013-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 19, 2013
End Date: Apr 5, 2017

1. Describe and quantify processes controlling the release of nutrients (N and P) in cranberry farming. 1.1. Characterize temporal and spatial patterns of N and P discharge from cranberry farms. 1.2. Characterize sources and transport pathways connecting N and P to surface water and groundwater. 2. Develop management practices that farmers can use to improve water use efficiency and reduce environmental impacts of agriculturally derived N and P. 2.1. Optimize existing agricultural practices to increase water savings and enhance crop production. 2.2. Develop new technologies and management practices that reduce that transfer of P from cranberry farms to the environment.

The research objectives will be carried out using a combination of standard operating procedures and novel instrumentation to measure key physical and chemical attributes of cranberry farms. Our research will transcend spatial scales, ranging from fine-scale microcosm (benchtop) experiments of nutrient leaching, to field scale evaluation of transport pathways, to farm-scale quantification of nutrient loads. Experimental techniques, including parametric statistics and geostatistical analysis, will be used to test the effectiveness of field treatments for reducing nutrient losses, and observational water quality monitoring will offer quantitative insight into sources and transport processes as well as establish better baselines for cranberry nutrient exports. Our research is structured around two research objectives, each of which is divided into subobjectives, consisting of 1-3 focused experiments. These experiments combine field observations with laboratory analyses to develop fundamental knowledge of cranberry hydrology (Objective 1) that guides management strategies for reducing nutrient loss and improving water use efficiency (Objective 2). Our process-oriented research (Objective 1) involves both experimental and observational studies seeking to quantify controls and patterns of nutrient loss. We will conduct microcosm experiments that inform future management strategies for nutrient-loss reduction, and develop a monitoring program for quantifying components of the water and nutrient cycling in cranberry farms. Our applied research (Objective 2) includes experimental studies for developing guidelines with respect to improved irrigation and drainage water efficiency, and reduction of phosphorus loss from farms.