For an earlier
study, ARS chemists Laura McConnell (left) and Jennifer Harman-Fetcho collect
Choptank River oysters to be analyzed for agricultural chemicals. Click the
image for more information about it.
New Grant to Help Clean Up Chesapeake
Watershed By Sharon Durham May
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are part of a consortium
that has received an $800,000 research grant to implement farming management
practices that could improve water quality in the Choptank River watershed,
which drains into the Chesapeake Bay. ARS is the chief scientific research
agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The consortium received the funding from the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation via
its Chesapeake Bay
Targeted Watersheds Grant Program.
The consortium includes ARS, the Maryland Department of Agriculture,
Caroline Soil Conservation
District, USDAs Natural Resources
Conservation Service, the University of
Maryland-Extension Service, the University of Marylands
Horn Point Laboratory, the
Smithsonian Environmental Research
Center, public drainage associations and local farmers.
L. McConnell, who works in the ARS
Management and Byproduct Utilization Laboratory at Beltsville, Md., and
W. McCarty in the ARS
and Remote Sensing Laboratory, also at Beltsville, are leading the ARS
component of the project.
Both labs are part of the ARS
A. Wallace Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center, which is part of
the Chesapeake Bay watershed that includes about 64,000 square miles in six
states. The Chesapeake is the nations largest fresh water estuary.
Agriculture is the primary land use in the Choptank River watershed,
accounting for 58 percent of the land. ARS scientists, along with the rest of
the consortium, aim to enroll 6,000 acres per year in a commodity cover crop as
a pilot program to study the feasibility of large- scale implementation of this
strategy in the Choptank watershed.
By implementing this program, the consortium estimates a short-term
reduction of 30,000 pounds per year of potential nitrogen loading into the
Choptank River. Installation of drainage controls will reduce potential
nitrogen loading by an additional 1,600 pounds per year, and will also help
establish new wetlands and enhance wildlife habitat.