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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: CONSERVATION EFFECTS ASSESSMENT FOR THE ST. JOSEPH RIVER WATERSHED Project Number: 3602-13000-008-00
Project Type: Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 21, 2006
End Date: Dec 20, 2011

Objective:
Research is planned to address the following objectives and specific sub-objectives. 1) Measure and quantify water quality, water quantity, and soil quality effects of BMPs and conservation practices at the field, farm, and sub-watershed scale for the St. Joseph River Watershed (SJRW). Specifically to: 1a) evaluate the impact of conservation practices applied on agricultural land (e.g. Core 4, water table management, soil amendments, point source/structural filters, etc.) on source water quantity and chemistry and in stream and riparian ecosystems; 1b) Quantify the influence of land use (i.e. urban and agricultural), land conversion, and the use of industrial by-products (including FGD-gypsum and foundry sand) on surface and drainage water quantity and quality and soil quality; and 1c) determine the impact of conservation management practices on soil quality. 2) Develop and validate watershed models and quantify the uncertainties of model predictions at field, farm, and watershed scales for the St Joseph River and other appropriate watersheds. Specifically to: 2a) parameterize, calibrate, and verify watershed scale models (i.e. SWAT and AnnAGNPS) and use them to evaluate conservation and land management practices for source water protection in the SJRW; and 2b) determine the sensitivity of watershed response variables to the spatial and temporal placement of conservation practices within the SJRW. 3) Develop and apply policy-planning tools to aid selection and placement of conservation practices to optimize profit, water quality, and conservation practice efficiency. Specifically to: 3a) assess the benefits and costs of implementing conservation practices at the whole farm and sub-watershed scale; and 3b) determine the optimal selection and placement of conservation practices in the watershed scale. 4) Develop and implement a data system to organize, document, manipulate, and compile water, soil, management, and socio-economic data for assessment of conservation practices at field, farm, and watershed scales for the St. Joseph River and other appropriate watersheds. Specifically to: 4a) develop standardized procedures for basic data compilation; and 4b) develop prototype data system.

Approach:
The research will be conducted in the St. Joseph River Watershed at NE Indiana using a before-after-control-impact (BACI) paired watershed design. There are a total of 12 sampling sites, including two fields, two surface depressions, three medium watersheds, three large watersheds, one extra-large watershed and one at the sub-basin scale (~19,000 ha) at Cedar Creek. Additional sites will be selected to include urban and urbanizing land uses. Industrial by-products, including FGD-gypsum and foundry sand, will be applied to various land uses, including row crop agriculture and turf grass systems. Surface and subsurface drainage water from these sites will be monitored and water samples analyzed for nutrients and pesticides. There are five weather stations co-located with water quality monitoring stations to provide weather and soil moisture data. Indicators of aquatic ecosystem health and soil quality will be evaluated. Conservation practices will be mapped through the help of the local NRCS, SWCD, and St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative working collaboratively with farmers in the watershed. Results of monitored water quality data will be analyzed to identify most effective management practices and to parameterize, calibrate, and validate the SWAT and AnnAGNPS models. Benefits and costs of implementing conservation practices at the whole farm and sub-watershed scale will be assessed and optimal selection and placement of conservation practices in the watershed scale will be analyzed using water quality and economic models.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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