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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #441756

Research Project: Establishing a Paired Watershed to Prepare for Conservation Practice Assessment (Year 3)

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 5062-12130-007-038-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2022
End Date: Mar 31, 2023

Objective:
1) Operate and maintain the water quantity and quality monitoring station at Faribault County’s CD30 (County Ditch tile system) watershed. 2) Add the following to current data collection efforts: a) Dissolved chloride (Cl-) b) Soil moisture content 3) Communicate project goals and objectives to CD30 landowners/operators. 4) Provide project results to the producers via in-person meetings and web-based data access.

Approach:
A structure, sensors, and equipment were installed in 2020 at the CD30 tile main just north of US Hwy 169 four miles north of Blue Earth, Minnesota. Instrumentation is now measuring flow, nitrate-N concentration, turbidity, electroconductivity, and water temperature. The instruments are connected to a datalogger and cell modem. Automated samplers are in place. Water samples will be collected, stored, and transported to the ARS lab in St. Paul, MN, for analysis. Flow, nitrate-N concentration, and nitrate-N loads will be calculated for the CD30 watershed and the adjacent CD62 watershed. Statistical analyses will be conducted. When sufficient data supports a pairing between the watersheds, which may take a few years, a concerted effort to deploy conservation practices will be made in one watershed. Continued monitoring is expected to provide insight into the benefits of the practices at this multi-field, watershed scale (˜650 ac) as well as the lag time until the benefits of conservation can be measured.