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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Research Project #443215

Research Project: FY 2022 Conservation Effects Assessment Project - Benchmark Watershed Assessment Studies on Croplands - Choptank River Watershed (Beltsville)

Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-13610-030-061-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 19, 2022
End Date: Sep 1, 2027

Objective 1: Develop and evaluate the SWAT C modeling components using Choptank Watershed data. Objective 2: Continue evaluation of in situ nutrient sensors for monitoring water quality in the Choptank Watershed. Objective 3: Examine the fate of chiral MESA within the Tuckahoe and Greensboro sub-watersheds and nested smaller sub-watersheds and collaborate with USGS on chiral MESA measurements using NWQA samples. Objective 4: Assessment of ecosystem service provision by NRCS/FSA conservation practices in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed using the InVEST model.

Problems to be addressed include: A) Understanding Chemical, Physical, and Biological Processes that Affect Implementation of Conservation Practices - Proposed Research: •Plot & field studies that advance understanding of processes that determine the effectiveness of conservation practices for minimizing environmental contaminants to surface & subsurface waters. •Determine how conservation practices influence soil properties & health, crop water use, crop yield, surface transport, & water cycling in the landscape, & how conservation practices are affected by changing climatic variables. •Combine soil & biological measurements with management data to understand the effects of management & above ground biomass on ecology. •Study soil crust formation & the measurement of crust shear strength & investigate the role conservation management on soil aggregate distribution & stability. •Assess the long-term effects of large applications of dairy manure & other amendments on soil properties & crop yields, & the effects of periodic deep tillage under no-till management to alleviate nutrient stratification. B) Assess & Implement Conservation Practices in Agricultural Landscapes – Proposed Research: •Assess gully erosion using remote sensing & geospatial technologies at multiple scales. •Characterize provision of ecosystem services in natural & restored wetlands & riparian buffer management. •Evaluate the effects of edge-of-field practices on adjacent aquatic ecosystems. •Assess the resilience of conservation practices to function under changing conditions & extreme weather events. •Assess the efficacy of conservation practices at multiple scales to reduce soil erosion & improve water quality. •Utilize remote sensing & geospatial technologies to evaluate the positioning of conservation practices within watersheds. •Evaluate the role of precision agriculture in improving agricultural productivity & reducing negative environmental effects. •Evaluate effects of tillage, cover crops, & other in-field conservation practices on water loss, use, & mitigation of sediment & other contaminant losses. C) Forecast the Impacts of Conservation Practices Within Changing Environments – Proposed Research: •Synthesize past research results related to impacts of conservation practices with qualitative literature reviews, systematic literature reviews, & meta-analyses. •Maintain long term monitoring databases (STEWARDS, LTAR) & incorporate or link relevant & available information from historical watershed databases with current databases. •Develop new watershed models & refine existing watershed models, such as SWAT, AnnAGNPS, & RUSLE, to predict the impacts of conservation practices & anticipated future changes in climatic, land use & socio-economic environments. •Conduct novel statistical modeling assessments (i.e., artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, multi-model averaging, etc.) of the impacts of conservation practices & changing environmental conditions (climatic, habitat, land use, socio-economic, ecological, spatiotemporal scale, etc.) on ecological responses & ecosystem services in agricultural and mixed-use watersheds.