Improving Water Quality in Agricultural Watersheds Underlain by Claypan and Restrictive Layer Soils
Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research
Project Number: 5070-12130-005-00
Start Date: Jan 26, 2012
End Date: Jan 25, 2017
Objectives are to 1: Conduct field and watershed scale studies to assess contribution of surface runoff, interflow, and groundwater recharge to contaminant transport in claypan watersheds. 2: Develop and assess the effectiveness of management practices and bio and phytoremediation technologies for reducing hydrologic transport of ag contaminants. 2a: Assess the efficacy of vegetative buffer strips for reducing the transport of dissolved-phase and sediment-bound organic contaminants (herbicides and veterinary antibiotics). 2b: Compare the impact of bioenergy cropping systems to conventional cropping systems on sediment, nutrient, and herbicide transport. 2c: Assess the soil and water quality impact of a field-scale precision agriculture system on sediment, nutrient, and herbicide transport. 3: Improve watershed models for targeting conservation practices on the landscape and to better assess the aggregate impact of field and watershed-scale management practices on surface water quality. 3a: Improve the capability of models to simulate sediment, nutrient, and herbicide transport from diversified cropping systems, including bioenergy crops. 3b: Develop methods to target BMPs to vulnerable areas. 4: Improve watershed management and ecosystem services through long-term observation, characterization, delivery, and application of information. 4a: Conduct long-term water quality monitoring and characterization of ag watersheds and landscapes to assess trends and cause-effect relationships in contaminant transport. 4b: Multi-Location Project: Estimate the impacts of projected climate change on regional water availability and quality across diverse physiographic regions of the US, and their associated implications for conservation needs and ag productivity. 5. As part of the LTAR network, and in concert with similar long-term, land-based research infrastructure in Central Mississippi River Basin, use the CMRB LTAR to improve the observational capabilities and data accessibility of the LTAR network, to support research to sustain or enhance agricultural production and environmental quality in agroecosystems characteristic of the Central Mississippi River Basin, as per the LTAR site responsibilities and other information outlined in the 2011 USDA Long- LTAR Network Request for Information (RFI) to which the location successfully responded, and the LTAR Shared Research Strategy, a living document that serves as a roadmap for LTAR implementation. Participation in the LTAR network includes research and data management in support of the ARS GRACEnet and/or Livestock GRACEnet projects.
The impact of alternative and prevailing crop management systems on soil and water quality will be studied at field, farm and watershed scales. This research will focus on assessing water quality from plot to watershed scales, coordinated with soil quality assessments at plot and field scales. It also focuses on the development of tools and techniques to quantify the impact of implementing conservation practices within a watershed in the most economically efficient manner to achieve sustainable and targeted reductions of nutrients, sediment, and herbicide loadings to the region’s streams, rivers, and impounded waters. The proposed research will also examine the environmental effects of bioenergy crops compared to conventional grain crop production and assess the potential benefits of targeting bioenergy production to vulnerable landscape areas. Lastly, the nation-wide ARS watershed network will utilize its decades-long weather and stream discharge data to estimate the impacts of projected climate change on regional water availability across diverse physiographic regions of the United States, and their associated implications for conservation needs and agricultural productivity.
Additional funding in FY14 is to enable the collection of a core set of common measurements at the CMRB that are compatible across all LTAR sites; to support the construction and maintenance of National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) like infrastructure at the CMRB to support data collection efforts that help link LTAR with NEON; and to enable the archiving, storage, and management of CMRB data sets so that users will be able to access the core set of common LTAR measurements across all sites through a single data portal.