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Tour Stop #5: Mississippi Delta MSEA Project
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(Oxford and Stoneville, MS;
Baton Rouge, LA)
US Geological Survey
Mississippi State University
University of Mississippi

          The Mississippi Delta MSEA project is part of a national program entitled Agricultural Systems for Environmental Quality (ASEQ), and is being conducted by a consortium of farmers and fifteen Federal, state, and local agencies. The primary project objective is to develop alternative/innovative farming systems for improved water quality/ecology in the Mississippi Delta. The premise of the project is that economically feasible BMPs will be effective in reducing suspended sediments and agrochemicals leaving the watersheds and entering the oxbow lakes, resulting in improvements in lake water quality and ecology. The project design involves a hierarchy of BMPs in three research watersheds. One watershed serves as a control with no BMPs initially. A second watershed is receiving nominal BMP treatment while a third has an intense BMP effort. The project design also allows for acquisition of information about the ability of Delta riparian zones to assimilate and transform agrochemicals. Lake water and bottom sediments are being analyzed for selected pesticides/metals and bioassayed for toxic effects. Macroinvertebrate communities and important food web components are being characterized and evaluated. This information, coupled with fisheries data will be used to assess the ecological health of the oxbow lakes. Surface runoff and shallow ground water are being collected and analyzed for sediments, nutrients, and pesticides in critical flow areas in the watersheds so that contaminant reduction by each BMP or combination of BMPs can be measured. Other specific research efforts include: evaluating innovative weed control technology (weed sensors), using precision weather forecasting for timing pesticide applications, and assessing socioeconomic factors related to adoption of alternative farming practices.

Key Words:
Ecology, Water quality, BMPS, Innovative farming

Rebich, R.A., Schreiber, J.D., and Pote, J. W. Partnerships within the Mississippi Delta Management Systems Evaluation Area Project In: Proceedings of the conference THE DELTA, Connecting Points of View for Sustainable Natural Resources. August 13-16, Memphis, TN, 1966.

Schreiber, J.D., Cooper, C.M., Knight S.S., and Smith S. Jr. A management system evaluation area (MSEA) project for the Mississippi Delta. In: Proceedings of American Water-Resources Association annual summer symposium Watershed Restoration Management July 14-17, Syracuse, New York, p. 301-310.1996.

Schreiber, J. D., Rebich, R.A., and Pote, J. W. The Mississippi Delta management systems evaluation area (MSEA) project In: Proceedings of Sixth Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, March 10-1 4, Las Vegas, Nevada, Vol. 2, pp. VIII-91 - VIII-95. 1996. (Conference Proceedings)