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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Oxford, Mississippi » National Sedimentation Laboratory » Water Quality and Ecology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #212617

Title: Environmental Quality Research in Beasley Lake Watershed, 1995-2007: Succession from Conventional to Conservation Practices

item Locke, Martin
item Knight, Scott
item Smith Jr, Sammie
item Cullum, Robert
item Zablotowicz, Robert
item Bingner, Ronald - Ron

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/30/2007
Publication Date: 12/4/2008
Citation: Locke, M.A., Knight, S.S., Smith Jr, S., Cullum, R.F., Zablotowicz, R.M., Yuan, Y., Bingner, R.L. 2008. Environmental quality research in Beasley Lake Watershed, 1995-2007: Succession from conventional to conservation practices. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 63(6):430-442.

Interpretive Summary: The Mississippi Delta of the United States is an important agricultural region, and water conservation and water quality improvement are important to the well-being of the region. Over a decade ago, ARS scientists began working with other agencies to conduct water quality research in three Delta oxbow lake watersheds. One of these, Beasley Lake, was selected as a benchmark watershed to join in a nationwide research effort, Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP), to quantify effects of conservation management practices on water quality. This paper reports on CEAP research in Beasley Lake Watershed during the period from 1995 to 2006, and provides a synthesis of lake and soil chemical, biological, and physical characteristics that have changed as a result of a decade conversion of the watershed from conventional row crops (primarily cotton) to conservation practices such as reduced tillage, buffer strips, and conservation reserve. These results will be of interest to regulatory agencies, industry, farmers, and the public.

Technical Abstract: Beasley Lake Watershed, Mississippi, one of 14 USDA-ARS benchmark watersheds in the national CEAP research effort, is typical of topography and cropping systems in the Mississippi Delta Region of the United States. Beasley Watershed, formerly a component of the Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Area (MD-MSEA) Project, drains into an oxbow lake that has been monitored since 1995. Environmental assessments in support of CEAP have continued since 2003 with termination of the MD-MSEA project. When evaluations began in 1995, 79% of the 915-ha watershed was in row crop agriculture and the remaining area (21%) included a 25-ha lake and a 135-ha riparian forest. From 1995 to the present, agricultural activities in the watershed have evolved from predominantly cotton and soybean (63.3% and 12.2% of watershed area, respectively) production to a mixture of row crops (66.5% of total watershed area) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) (12.4% of total watershed area) in 2005. In contrast to 1995, the 2005 cropped land consists of 243 ha soybeans and 81 ha cotton. This paper reports on CEAP research in Beasley Watershed, including continued monitoring of lake limnology, evaluating runoff from edge-of-field sites with various management practices, quantifying management effects in areas that have shifted to CRP, compiling watershed data from the past years of assessment, and modeling.