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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: 5062-12130-008-038-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

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

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.

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.