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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » National Soil Erosion Research » Research » Research Project #441760

Research Project: Assessment of Sediment and Chemical Transport Processes for Developing and Improving Agricultural Conservation Practices

Location: National Soil Erosion Research

Project Number: 5020-12130-004-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 17, 2022
End Date: Mar 16, 2027

Objective 1: Quantify physical and chemical processes affecting sediment and nutrient transport in surface and subsurface waters. Sub-objective 1.A: Determine the dominant flow pathways for water and nutrient transport in tile-drained headwater watersheds. Sub-objective 1.B: Quantify the effects of landscape, surface, and climate conditions on erosion and related processes. Sub-objective 1.C: Evaluate how flow characteristics impact the ability of soils to behave as nutrient sources and sinks. Objective 2: Evaluate and improve the efficacy of novel soil and water conservation practices. Sub-objective 2.A: Optimize and demonstrate phosphorus removal structures and sorption materials for removing pollutants from water. Sub-objective 2.B: Determine effects of combined management practices on water quality. Objective 3: Enhance soil erosion and water quality models for improved predictions and management of agricultural and forested lands. Sub-objective 3.A: Improve natural resource model functionality and performance. (This is a non-hypothesis research sub-objective.) Sub-objective 3.B: Application of natural resource models and develop modeling techniques. Objective 4: Utilize long-term field and watershed datasets to enhance agricultural production and environmental quality in agroecosystems, and facilitate and support collaborations through the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) and Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network. Sub-objective 4.A: Monitor fields and subcatchments in the St. Joseph River Watershed as part of the St. Joseph River CEAP and Eastern Corn Belt LTAR.

Hydrometric monitoring and conservative tracer analysis will be used to evaluate antecedent conditions on surface runoff and subsurface tile drainage flow generation and quantify surface and subsurface flow contributions to water quantity and quality. Runoff and groundwater within a tile-drained watershed will be analyzed to determine soil physical property effects and management practices on water quality. A lab rill channel and soil box will quantify sediment deposition and transport under different hydrologic conditions, and develop equations for process-based erosion models. Surface topographic techniques will be assessed to quantify spatial distribution of soil erosion and sediment deposition, and morphology of the drainage network. Collect high P soils from Western Lake Erie Basin and characterize for chemical and physical properties, followed by flow-through desorption experiments. Construct a subsurface P removal structure on an agricultural tile drain, using Fe-rich P filter media. Monitor inflow and treated water for P removal. Lab studies to assess different biochars at pollutant removal. Lab and field studies will assess conservation practice impacts on water quality at plot and field scales. Continued efforts on physical-based soil erosion model, including improved channel erosion simulation for ephemeral gullies and grass waterways, water quality routines for pollutant losses, and expanded subsurface tile drainage for better winter simulations and controlled drainage management. Changes to science model have resulted in separate code branches. We will unify these to have a single WEPP version applied by user agencies. Incorporate code from graduate student and other research. Conduct simulations using TauDEM, comparing results to both observed data and simulations using TOPAZ. Assess current code bases for WEPP and WEPS, and determine if common algorithms can be shared. Evaluate data needs of WEPP, WEPS, RHEM and RUSLE2 for common databases. Refactor WEPP code and maintain existing functionality. Use web services locally for desktop WEPP and WEPS, and for web-based applications to separate science and database logic from user interfaces. Expand web service software to fully support WEPP. Develop parallel processing for watershed applications, controlled by software service layer. Use parallelization on CPU and GPU processors. Update P-TRAP software, build mobile research/demo P removal structure, and help with P removal structures across the country. Climate change is resulting in elevated temperatures, more variable rainfall occurrence, and more intense rainfall events. Current conservation practices may be less effective in the future, and other practices may be needed to keep soil and pollutant losses to lower desired levels. Modeling studies will be used to assess impacts of climate change on erosion and off-site water quality, and effectiveness of control practices. Collaborate and support ongoing and future CEAP and LTAR projects and initiatives through sharing historical data from fields and watersheds, continued monitoring of field and watershed sites, and collection of new data and samples for cross-location analyses.