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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Research Project #433467

Research Project: Applying Rangeland Hydrology & Erosion Models on Pastures and Annual Grasslands

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Project Number: 2060-13610-003-010-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 13, 2017
End Date: Sep 30, 2021

The purpose of this agreement is to enable the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to work cooperatively in expanding the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM) to develop predictions of erosion on annual grasslands and perennial pasturelands. Considerable vegetation data from ARS research stations exist for pastureland. The initiative will allow this data to be collected, evaluated and used to develop RHEM risk analyses for erosion on pastureland. The proposed initiative will investigate hydrologic influences to topical compost additions on California annual grasslands. RHEM model outputs will be used to develop eco-hydrology training for NRCS employees and partners on how to determine and evaluate pasture and annual grassland hydrologic function and effect to soil properties, soil health, plant composition, grazing animals and management decisions.

Hydrologic function in the dynamics of an ecologic site is often poorly understood on pastureland and annual grasslands and poorly documented in ecological site descriptions. Accurate erosion predictions on pastureland and annual grasslands with the ability to estimate high risk areas for erosion will improve the conservation planning process and ultimately, the success of conservation management decisions. The initiative will determine if the addition of organic amendments (compost) can be added to California annual rangeland without negative effects to water quality or have negative environmental outcomes associated with the hydrologic function of the ecological site. The NRCS and ARS will enter into an agreement to 1) expand the RHEM model to pasture and annual grasslands, 2) test impacts on soil surface erosion and hydrologic function of compost applied rangeland, 3) provide course material for eco-hydrology training and 4) inform the hydrologic sections of ecological site descriptions.