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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbus, Ohio » Soil Drainage Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #345041

Research Project: Agricultural Water Management in Poorly Drained Midwestern Agroecosystems

Location: Soil Drainage Research

Title: A decade of evaluating the ecological effects of grass filter strips on channelized agricultural headwater streams

item Smiley, Peter - Rocky
item King, Kevin

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Grass filter strips are a widely used conservation practice in the Midwestern United States for reducing nutrient, pesticide, and sediment inputs into agricultural streams. Previous studies have documented the effectiveness of grass filter strips in reducing the input of agricultural pollutants, but the influence of this practice on the structure and function of agricultural streams has not been evaluated. Additionally, it has been predicted that vegetative practices like grass filter strips will require at least 10 years before they mature and begin to affect the ecosystem. We hypothesize that if grass filter strips are an effective practice then over time ecosystem structure of channelized agricultural headwater streams with grass filter strips should become more similar to that of forested unchannelized streams than channelized agricultural headwater streams without grass filter strips. We began evaluating the ecological effects of grass filter strips on channelized agricultural headwater streams in 2006. Our long term research involves annual sampling of riparian habitat and geomorphology and seasonal sampling of instream habitat, water chemistry, fishes, and amphibians from three channelized headwater streams without grass filter strips, three channelized headwater streams with planted grass filter strips, and two unchannelized headwater streams with forested riparian habitats in central Ohio. The results of our initial assessments conducted within eight to nine years after planting indicated that planting grass filter strips simply widens the riparian habitats and does not alter the ecosystem structure and function of these small streams. We will present new results on the trends in riparian habitat, instream habitat, water chemistry, and fish community structure among the three riparian habitat types over a ten year period from 2006 to 2015. Our presentation will conclude with recommendations on the restoration implications of the findings from the first decade of this research effort.