Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2012
Publication Date: 7/1/2012
Citation: Meals, D., Vellidis, G., Bosch, D.D., Cho, J., Crow, S., Hawkins, G., Lowrance, R.R., Mullen, J., Sullivan, D.G., Wall, A., Luloff, A., Hoag, D., Arabi, M., Jennings, G., Osmond, D. 2012. Little River Experimental Watershed, Georgia: National Institute of Food and Agriculture - Conservation Effects Assessment Project. Soil and Water Conservation Society. Chapter 10, 187-200. Interpretive Summary: The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) was initiated in 2003 to quantify the environmental benefits of USDA conservation practices. As part of this overall effort, watershed studies and synthesis efforts were conducted. This report summarizes the findings of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) CEAP efforts conducted on the 334 km2 Little River Experimental Watershed (LREW) in south-central Georgia. Comparisons were made between collected hydrologic and water quality data and conservation practices implemented within the watershed over time. Data and computer simulations emphasize the importance of forested riparian buffers in maintaining water quality within the watershed. Socioeconomic analysis of landowner and farmer opinions indicated adoption of conservation practices across the watershed was primarily due to incentives, both in the form of technical assistance and cost share.
Technical Abstract: In September 2007, USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), now the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) jointly funded two integrated research and outreach grants to conduct a synthesis of results from 13 ongoing CSREES-NRCS funded watershed studies contributing to the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). The CEAP synthesis projects presented an opportunity for USDA to study findings across the 13 studies, compile important lessons learned, take stock of how implementation of conservation practices affects water resources at a watershed scale, and explore geographic and other systematic similarities and differences among the watershed projects. The 334 km2 Little River Experimental Watershed (LREW) in south-central Georgia was one of the 13 studied watersheds. This report summarizes the findings of the NIFA-CEAP LREW synthesis study conducted in cooperation with USDA-ARS. As part of the synthesis study, existing hydrologic, water quality, and GIS data were characterized and evaluated. Historical conservation practices implemented within the watershed were categorized and the impacts of the conservation practices related to their implementation. A watershed scale simulation model, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), was used to further examine the impacts of conservation practices across the watershed. The study further examined socioeconomic trends which might enhance or hinder implementation of additional practices across the watershed. The study was shown to be an effective tool for raising public awareness on the impacts of conservation practices on overall watershed conditions.