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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Research Project #438980

Research Project: Environmental Risks and Benefits of Grass Buffer Strips Grown for Nutrient Conservation and Poultry Bedding Production on the Delmarva Peninsula

Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-13610-030-019-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2023

1. Evaluate the environmental benefit of switchgrass and Miscanthus buffers planted on marginal farmland and near-stream areas including reduction of soil P saturation and reduction of nutrient loss from farmland using field sampling and Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) modeling. 2. Evaluate the expected improvement in whole-farm nutrient balance (P, N, C) and economic balance associated with on-farm production of poultry bedding material (switchgrass and Miscanthus) compared to the current practice of pine sawdust importation.

The overall approach will involve strategic sampling and monitoring to assess impacts of switchgrass and Miscanthus production on farm scale nutrient dynamics and assessment of environmental impacts (phytomining of excess soil P, uptake of nitrate and phosphate in ground water) resulting from plantation on marginal cropland, edges of irrigated areas, and buffer areas adjacent to ditches and streams. The data collection is also designed to establish key parameters used in Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) modeling such that watershed scale assessment of miscanthus and switchgrass production on nutrient exports can be evaluated. The other key component of this work is to assess methods for controlling the potential spread of switchgrass and Miscanthus into non-agricultural ecosystems, including herbicide termination trials, cultural practices, and evaluation of dispersal mechanisms.