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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Research Project #439075

Research Project: FY 2020 Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP), Agricultural Research Service Benchmark Watershed Assessment Studies (on Croplands)

Location: Agroecosystems Management Research

Project Number: 5030-13000-011-078-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2022

Objective:
Evaluate the effects and benefits of conservation practices at the watershed scale, in support of policy decisions and program implementation. Specifically, to: 1. Determine how to select, place, and combine conservation practices to achieve improvements in water quantity and quality in watersheds; 2. Improve conservation technologies to better protect water resources: development and testing of new designs, equipment, and materials; and 3. Continue to develop hydrologic, water chemistry and land use data for the CEAP watersheds in the South Fork of the Iowa River (SFIR) and Walnut Creek (WC) (Story Co., Iowa).

Approach:
The effects of conservation activities on water and soil quality will be assessed at the watershed scale using models with ARS long-term watershed data sets, expertise, and resources. 1. Continue to collect hydrologic and water quality samples from stream water at three automated stations in SFIR watershed and at one station in the WC watershed, and analyze water quality samples to determine nitrate, total phosphorus, and sediment concentrations. Process data to produce estimates of daily nutrient loads and deposit hydrologic, nutrient concentrations, and meteorological data in Sustaining the Earth's Watersheds, Agricultural Research Data System (STEWARDS); an internet-accessible database containing data on ARS CEAP watersheds. 2. Continue to develop and evaluate tools to optimize placement of conservation practices within Midwest watersheds for improved environmental benefits. a. Continue development of watershed-scale conservation planning databases including field boundaries, LiDAR topographic data, historical crop cover data layers (USDA-NASS), Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) soil maps and soil attribute tables (USDA-NRCS), hydrology, and infrastructure (roads, bridges, farmsteads, etc). Utilize products developed from these data in outreach efforts described in #3 above. b. Continue to develop a multi-year (2003-2018) review of nitrate concentrations and loads for SFIR in relation to land use, water balance, and other predictive data.