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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Water Quality and Ecology Research » Research » Research Project #443255

Research Project: Sensible Agronomics and Shrewd Conversations Support the Adoption of Environmentally Sustainable and Economically Sound Production Systems

Location: Water Quality and Ecology Research

Project Number: 6060-13660-009-021-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 30, 2022
End Date: Mar 31, 2024

Intensive agriculture has caused impairment of surface water bodies in the Lower Mississippi River Basin (LMRB), and the decline of the primary agricultural water supply, the Mississippi River Valley Alluvial Aquifer. Sustainability of the agriculture is dependent on adequate water quality and quantity. Project objectives relevant to the LMRB are: (1) Determine socioeconomic and cultural factors that influence adoption of conservation production and irrigation water management technologies in the LMRB; (2) Demonstrate and evaluate how cover crop production systems and irrigation water management technologies improve water quality and quantity parameters, yield, and net returns; (3) Develop a model to inform practitioners of the environmental, agronomic, and economic implications of conservation production systems and irrigation water management technologies from the field to basin scale; and (4) Stimulate the adoption and proper implementation of management practices that reduce tillage, increase surface residues, and maintain profitability.

The project will take place in the Lower Mississippi River Basin (LMRB), a geographical area encompassing 276,460 square km. Survey, modeling, and outreach will be conducted throughout the LMRB; on-farm demonstrations and evaluations will be at 27 locations across the Delta region of Mississippi. Factors that motivate producers to adopt novel production strategies and technologies will be identified. Second, it will be demonstrated at the production scale that coupling of irrigation water management technologies with cover crop production systems decreases erosion, off-site agrochemical transport, and consumptive water use while maintaining or improving productivity and profitability. Third, through modeling, it is essential to demonstrate how small changes at the field-scale improve water quality, quantity, and sustainability of agriculture in the LMRB. Finally, research results from this project will be used to drive shrewd conversations in the farmer-to-farmer network. This, in turn, is expected to facilitate adoption of the novel production system in the LMRB.