Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbus, Ohio » Soil Drainage Research » Research » Research Project #442429

Research Project: A Multi-Scale and Regional Approach to Cold Season Hydrology and Nutrient Dynamics in Agroecosystems for Water Quality Protection

Location: Soil Drainage Research

Project Number: 5080-13210-003-028-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Nov 1, 2021
End Date: Oct 31, 2024

Our long-term goal is to better characterize frozen and non-frozen soil hydrologic and nutrient cycling processes in order to develop evidence-based guidance for reducing nonpoint source nutrient pollution in agroecosystems. The overarching research questions are 1.) How do Best Management Practicies (BMPs) and management impact cold season hydrologic processes and soil-water-nutrient dynamics, and 2.) Do modifications need to be made to management systems to ensure they are effective during both the warm and cold seasons?

We propose a multi-scale (laboratory, plot, and field) study that, in addition to generating new data, will leverage existing data sets that span multiple states and years, and improve simulation of cold season hydrologic and nutrient transport processes. The laboratory-scale component will characterize freeze-thaw cycle dynamics in individual soil cores, with an emphasis on hydraulic conductivity and nutrient releases. The plot-scale component will focus on the temporal dynamics of water and nutrient movement (surface runoff and tile discharge) during freeze-thaw cycles. The field-scale component will leverage the spatial extent of the edge-of-field monitoring networks to capture a gradient of soil types and climate in order to relate freeze-thaw cycle characteristics (intensity, duration) to cold season hydrology and nutrient losses. Additionally, the effects of BMPs including cover crops and no-till on cold season dynamics will be assessed using the edge-of-field data. The modeling component will seek to incorporate insights of the lab, plot, and field components into the Soil & Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model's representation of cold-season processes.