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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Kimberly, Idaho » Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research » Research » Research Project #443238

Research Project: FY 2022 Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) - Benchmark Watershed Assessment Studies (on croplands)

Location: Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research

Project Number: 2054-13000-010-008-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 2, 2022
End Date: Sep 30, 2027

Evaluate the effects of conservation practices in the USR watershed in southern Idaho.

Monitoring irrigation return flow will continue in cooperation with the Twin Falls Canal Company. Additionally, inflow and outflow will be sampled from four water quality ponds that have been constructed with support from EPA 319 funding. Samples will be collected weekly from 28 sites during the irrigation season and biweekly from 15 sites that continue to flow during the winter. Return flow data from all sites will be used to calculate annual water, sediment, and nutrient balances for the watershed. These balances will be used to determine if the quantity and quality of return flow are changing as more land has converted from furrow to sprinkler irrigation and the canal company continues to install water quality ponds. Sediment and nutrient losses will continue to be measured from a 210 ha subwatershed where fields have been converted from furrow irrigation to sprinkler irrigation. Approximately 10% of the cropland was sprinkler irrigated in 2005. After another 50 ha was converted to sprinkler irrigation in 2021, the subwatershed is 80% sprinkler irrigated. Advanced pattern recognition and machine learning processes will be used on publicly available remote sensing data to identify and map irrigation systems used on agricultural fields across the watershed. With this new methodology, changes in irrigation systems can be mapped and related to water quality dynamics in irrigation return flow streams. This technique could also be used in other watersheds where irrigation systems are being added or changed.