|DILUZIO, MAURO - Texas Agrilife Research|
|MCLELLAN, EILEEN - Environmental Defense|
|BIEGER, KATRIN - Texas Agrilife Research|
|GAO, JUNGANG - Texas Agrilife Research|
Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/2019
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: The U.S. spends billions of dollars on conservation planning and practices without fully demonstrating the public benefit. It is difficult to measure or predict how adding conservation to a farm improves water quality and the environment. We developed a simple tool called the Agricultural Conservation Reduction Estimator (ACRE) which predicts the effect of conservation practices at the field level based on a pre-developed sophisticated national model and measured data. It is intended for conservation planning and evaluation, and is easy to use and requires no training. ACRE meets an important need by providing science-based estimates of conservation practice benefits at the field scale to producers or conservation planners through a very simple tool.
Technical Abstract: The U.S. spends billions of dollars each year on subsidized conservation practices to reduce sediment and nutrient pollution from agricultural lands with little assessment of how much those loads were reduced. A variety of tools are available to predict the effects of conservation practices, but these either suffer from a lack of accuracy due to limited monitoring data or are model based, and too complex for use by conservation planners. In this research, we detail the development of a simple tool to fill this need called the Agricultural Conservation Reduction Estimator (ACRE). ACRE is driven by an extensive national database of export coefficients developed using the Texas Best management practice Evaluation Tool (TBET) and Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) models combined with conservation practice efficiencies derived from a mixture of literature values and model simulations. The previously calibrated and validated TBET/SWAT was applied nationally using data from the National Agricultural Model, an effort by the Agricultural Research Service/U.S. Department of Agriculture to construct publicly available datasets for national scale modeling. ACRE uses distributional information from both model predictions and literature estimates to perform a Monte-Carlo based estimate of sediment and nutrient loads (with confidence limits) from cultivated cropland. ACRE meets an important need by providing science-based estimates of conservation practice benefits at the field scale to producers or conservation planners through a very simple tool.