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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Research Project #441902

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification in Agricultural Watersheds through Optimized Management and Technology

Location: Agroecosystems Management Research

Project Number: 5030-13000-012-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

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

Objective 1: Evaluate trends in hydrology and water quality in agricultural watersheds managed with current production practices. The research utilizes georeferenced data relating to landuse, terrain, cropping and animal production, observable use of conservation practices, and climate and meteorological data. 1.A: Document changes in land use, conservation practices, and climate as drivers of water quality trends in three Iowa watersheds. 1.B: Utilize new stream monitoring technology and terrain analyses to document stream bank movement and water quality changes along the SFIR, as related to adjacent land use and extreme weather events. Objective 2: In collaboration with other Long-Term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) network sites, identify practices and factors that influence the effectiveness of conservation practices. 2.A: Compare the effects of ASP cropping system as part of the LTAR Common Experiment with other C-S cropping systems on targets such as N loss to drainage. 2.B: Determine crop water use using UAV imagery. Objective 3: Assess and improve models and remote sensing to characterize fields and watersheds. 3.A: Assess and improve modeling of Midwest conservation practices for sustainable intensification of agriculture. 3.B: Assess and improve mapping and analysis of subsurface drainage (e.g., patterns and intensity) using techniques from UAS and satellite imagery from several Midwest locations including four LTAR-drainage workgroup sites (Ames, St. Paul, W. Lafayette, Columbus).

This project will investigate the effects of agricultural management practices at field and watershed scales, investigate the dynamics of watershed hydrology, and assess and improve tools to characterize agricultural systems. Under the first objective, watershed studies will evaluate practices that can reduce loss of nitrate-nitrogen and phosphorous from cropped fields. These practices include saturated buffers, bioreactors, and blind surface inlets to subsurface drainage. Trend analysis will be conducted on long term records in the watershed studies to gain insight on water quality and streamflow variability over time. Streambank movement in these watersheds will be monitored with remote sensing. Under the second objective, field studies will be conducted as part of the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research network that will support research to sustain or enhance agricultural production and environmental quality in the Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB) region. The third objective will employ a mix of modeling and remote sensing studies to evaluate conservation practices and subsurface drainage systems. A breadth of watershed monitoring, remote sensing, controlled experiments in field and laboratory, and modeling techniques will be employed in the research. Publications, tools for conservation planning, and databases available to other scientists will be produced. Results are intended to enable agriculture to better manage water resources for multiple needs; particularly, in the UMRB.