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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Moore, Matthew
item Pierce, J
item Farris, J

Submitted to: Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/5/2004
Publication Date: 4/20/2004
Citation: Moore, M.T., Pierce, J.R., Farris, J.L. 2004. Water quality analysis of an intensively used agricultural reservoir in northeast Arkansas. In: Proceedings of the Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings. April 20-22, 2004. Raymond, Mississippi. 2004 CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary: Water quality and groundwater supply are two important topics of agriculture. Many farmers employ different types of management practices in order to improve the surrounding water quality, but few practices are available to address the supply of existing groundwater. Some farmers are beginning to install reservoirs, resembling small ponds or lakes, on their land. They use this water to irrigate their crops, rather than go through the expense of pumping groundwater. In places where water is becoming more scarce, farm reservoirs are one of the few options for farmers who grow water-intensive crops, such as rice. Environmental benefits of these farm reservoirs are nutrient retention (which decreases the need for further fertilizer application) and pesticide trapping. These reservoirs are capable of binding up potential contaminants that may otherwise find their way into surrounding lakes, rivers, and streams.

Technical Abstract: The use of farm reservoirs for irrigation is gaining popularity in the Mississippi River Alluvial Plain (MRAP). Due to depletions of several aquifers, many counties within the MRAP have been labeled as critical-use groundwater areas. To alleviate the stress on these aquifers, many farmers are implementing storage reservoirs for economic reasons. Their benefits, however, extend into the surrounding environment. When used with a tailwater recovery system, reservoirs have the potential to accumulate nutrients, which decreases the need for fertilizer application with irrigation water. Also, potentially harmful contaminants (e.g. pesticides) are trapped within the reservoir, rather than being released through drainage into receiving systems such as lakes, rivers, and streams. Roberts Reservoir is an intensively used, 49 ha storage reservoir, located in Poinsett County, Arkansas. Water quality analyses and toxicity assessments of the reservoir and surrounding ditches indicated a stable water quality environment, with no observed toxic effects. If necessary, the water could be safely released into a local receiving stream, or it could be maintained for irrigation purposes, thereby reducing the need for groundwater depletion.

Last Modified: 05/26/2017
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