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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION EFFECTS ASSESSMENT PROJECT - THE ARS WATERSHED ASSESSMENT STUDY

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

2007 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objectives of this project are to support a national assessment of the environmental effects of USDA conservation programs by providing detailed findings for a few intensively studied watersheds and to improve the performance of models to be used in the assessment. Specific objectives are:.
1)Develop and implement a data system to organize water, soil, management, and socio-economic watershed data;.
2)Quantify water quality, water quantity, soil quality, and ecosystem effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale;.
3)Validate models and quantify uncertainties of model prediction;.
4)Develop and apply policy-planning tools to aid selection and placement of conservation practices to optimize profits, environmental quality, and conservation practice efficiency; and.
5)Develop regional watershed models that quantify environmental outcomes of conservation practices.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The general approach is the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data from 14 ARS Benchmark Watersheds and the testing and evaluation of models for the national assessment. Conservation practices are being applied on the 14 watersheds. Development and testing of watershed models will be associated with the 14 watersheds. The watersheds provide a cross-section of climate, soils, land use, topography, and crops across major production regions of the U.S. The research will be carefully coordinated. Six multi-location teams will guide the research, with a specific team being responsible for each of the five objectives and a sixth team providing quality assurance guidelines for the other teams. This multi-location project will be affiliated with the following location-specific projects: 1265-13610-026-00D, 1902-13000-010-00D, 3602-12000-011-00D, 3602-12220-NEW-00D, 3604-13000-007-00D, 3622-12130-003-00D, 3625-12130-003-00D, 3625-13000-008-00D, 5358-21410-002-00D, 5368-13000-006-00D, 5402-13660-006-00D, 6206-13610-005-00D, 6218-13000-009-00D, 6408-13000-017-00D, 6408-13660-005-00D, 6602-13000-020-00D, 6602-13000-021-00D.


3.Progress Report
The function of this multi-location project is to coordinate among the multiple individual projects. Specific progress is reported in the individual, location-based progress reports. Below is a brief summary of progress by objective. Performance of participants is monitored through corresponding accountability in location project plans, and through ties from CRIS milestones to individual scientist performance appraisals. Additionally, NRCS and other stakeholders attend the annual CEAP meeting to view results, interact, and provide input on their needs. Extensive interactions among scientists and stakeholders occur at local levels.

Objective 1. On-site STEWARDS database system training was conducted at 12 CEAP watersheds. STEWARDS was released to the CEAP watershed teams for beta testing. Four watersheds have partially populated the database, with uploading scheduled for November 2007 and March 2008. Server clusters at Ames IA and Ft Collins CO house STEWARDS. Staffing needs are being evaluated.

Objective 2. Preliminary assessments of water quality and conservation practices have been done on several watersheds. Channel-forming processes and sediment sources are being assessed across locations.

Objective 3. SWAT has been calibrated and validated for Leon (TX), Little River (GA), Town Brook & Mahantango (PA), Cedar Creek (OH), South Fork & Walnut Creek (IA). Work has begun in Ft. Cobb (OK) and Goodwater Creek (MO). The landscape version of SWAT has begun testing on Little River (GA) and a linkage between SWAT and REMM has been done by Canadian collaborators. SWAT-APEX integration has been done for Leon (TX). AnnAGNPS has been calibrated and validated for Beasley, Goodwin & Yalobusha (MS).

Objective 4. A genetic algorithm now being tested optimizes the trade-offs among the three sub-objectives. A model of farm-level profit maximization (#1), drives a watershed model in SWAT, which output feeds to a water quality index (#2), optimization of environmental quality. Cost/change in nonpoint source agricultural pollution (#3) combines information from the farm-level economic model, SWAT, and the water quality index.

Objective 5. Version 2.1 of OMS was released with enhanced user interface, distributed models support, and project management. Science components in key process areas were extracted from legacy models, and structural linkages to the CONCEPTS and REMM models were investigated. New empirical scaling relationships were explored.

Team 6. ARS Data Quality Assurance completed one full year in a proficiency testing program and renewed enrollment. Recently, standard samples from a common lot containing N and P (nutrients) were obtained. Each laboratory will conduct 20 simple and 20 spiked sample analyses to quantify accuracy within and between laboratories.


4.Accomplishments
Watershed data system released to CEAP research team. Comprehensive, long-term data from diverse watersheds are needed for hydrologic and ecosystem analysis and model development, calibration and validation. To support the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) in assessing environmental impacts of USDA conservation programs and practices, researchers and staff from multiple ARS locations (El Reno, OK; Columbia, MO; Beltsville, MD; Ames, IA; Fort Collins, CP) developed a web-based data system: Sustaining the Earth’s Watersheds, Agricultural Research Data System (STEWARDS). The data system organizes and documents soil, water, climate, land-management, and socio-economic data from multiple agricultural watersheds across the US and allows users to search, download, visualize, and explore data. Now being beta-tested by the CEAP research team, when released to the public, STEWARDS will facilitate.
1)researchers in obtaining ARS’ long-term data for hydrological studies;.
2)modelers in retrieving measured data for model calibration and validation; and.
3)watershed managers and a wide array of partners and stakeholders in accessing long term data to support conservation planning and assessment. Anticipated benefits include preservation of data, increased data use, and facilitation of hydrological research within and across watersheds with diverse collaborators. (NP 201, Component 1: Agricultural Watershed Management)

Extraction of Legacy Code for Regionalized Prototype Watershed Model Development. Necessary scientific components for the regionalized prototype watershed model in key process areas such as water balance, nutrient cycling, soil erosion, and plant growth and development were extracted from legacy models such as RZWQM, WEPP, PRMS, and the European watershed model J2000. Components were restructured into Fortran 95 and further modularized in order to improve compatibility with the Object Modeling System (OMS). Rigorous evaluation of specific stand-alone components (e.g., soil erosion) was also initiated, with the end objective incorporation into the OMS module library repository. In addition, new structural linkages to components of the CONCEPTS and REMM models were investigated. Linkage to the CONCEPTS and REMM models will enhance the ability of the prototype regionalized watershed model to improve simulations of the dynamics of water and sediment transport in channels and riparian areas, respectively. [Contributes to Problem Area #1, Effectiveness of Conservation Practices, Product #5 and Problem Area #3, Drainage Water Management Systems, Product #4 of the new NP 201 Action Plan (FY2006-2010)]


6.Technology Transfer

Number of web sites managed1
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings2

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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