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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Research Project #432140

Research Project: Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Buffer Effectiveness in Chesapeake Bay Watershed - 2017

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Project Number: 8070-13000-014-16-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Feb 2, 2017
End Date: Dec 31, 2021

1) examine the effectiveness of existing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) buffers for reducing sediment and nutrient loadings within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, 2) identity the landscape and buffer characteristics associated with effective removal of sediment and nutrients, 3) develop criteria for targeting CRP buffers for greatest effectiveness, and 4) establish a long-term collaborative framework to monitor and assess effectiveness of CRP buffers on water quality within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

This Agreement covers multiple activities required to develop, evaluate, and acquire data sets to assess the effectiveness of CRP buffers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Further, the agreement will lead to recommendations for strengthening CRP buffer practices and the targeting of these practices to provide effective and cost-efficient conservation within the watershed. The Agreement will build upon national and regional Agricultural Research Service(ARS) projects and partnerships examining factors affecting water quality within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Monitoring and analytical protocols will be developed to measure the consequences of CRP buffers. These protocols will capture the benefits from reduced nutrient and sediment loads and measure instream benefits to aquatic ecosystems. This Agreement will be used to measure the effectiveness of CRP buffers to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment from upland agricultural activities, and quantify enhanced instream biological processes from buffers. In addition, the agreement will establish a longer-term collaborative effort between Farm Services Agency (FSA) and ARS to identify and quantify the environmental benefits from buffers. By identifying characteristics that can enhance the effectiveness of CRP buffers, the Secretary of Agriculture will be better able to target program enrollment, as well as better deliver financial and technical assistance to landowners, thereby furthering the broad goals of USDA conservation programs and the specific goals of the CRP. To efficiently accomplish this goal, this Agreement authorizes a cooperative effort that supports activities to develop information of common interest to the agencies.