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ARS Home » Midwest Area » St. Paul, Minnesota » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Research Project #443950

Research Project: Evaluating Conservation Practice Effectiveness with a Paired Watershed Approach (Year 3)

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Project Number: 5062-12130-008-041-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Apr 1, 2023
End Date: Sep 30, 2024

Continue monitoring of Faribault County’s CD30 and CD62 watersheds in order to establish relationships of flow and nitrate-N concentrations/loads in preparation for testing conservation practices at watershed scale in subsequent years.

Two side-by-side watersheds adjacent to US Hwy 169 and north of Blue Earth, Minnesota, are being monitored for nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon, and chloride concentrations, flow, turbidity, electroconductivity, and water temperature. The instruments are connected to dataloggers and cell modems. Automated samplers are in place. Water samples will be collected and stored by cooperator personal and transported to the ARS lab for analysis. This coming year will be the third for comparing flow and nitrate-N concentrations and loads between the two watersheds. Results from the first this year and the previous two will be analyzed for statistical pairing. When sufficient data support a strong relationship of flow and concentrations/loads between the watersheds, which may take a few years, a concerted effort to deploy conservation practices will be made in one watershed. Continued monitoring is expected to provide insight into the benefits of the practices at this multi-field, watershed scale (˜620 ac) as well as the lag time until the benefits of conservation can be measured. Project goals and objectives will be communicated to landowners/operators and their input will be sought on conservation practices to be deployed in coming years. Project results will be provided to the producers via in-person meetings and web-based data access.