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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATION OF CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND FORECASTS INTO RISK-BASED MANAGEMENT TOOLS FOR AGRICULTURE PRODUCTION AND RESOURCE CONSERVATION

Location: Great Plains Agroclimate and Natural Resources Research Unit

Title: Data management to enhance long-term watershed research capacity

Authors
item Steiner, Jean
item Sadler, Edward
item Hatfield, Jerry
item Wilson, Greg
item James, David
item Vandenberg, Bruce
item Ross, John
item Oster, Teri
item Cole, Kevin

Submitted to: National Sedimentaton Laboratory (NSL)- 50 Years of Soil & Water Research in a Changing Agricultural Environment
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 15, 2008
Publication Date: September 28, 2009
Citation: Steiner, J.L., Sadler, E.J., Hatfield, J.L., Wilson, G.J., James, D.E., Vandenberg, B.C., Ross, J.D., Oster, T., Cole, K.L. 2009. Data management to enhance long-term watershed research capacity. National Sedimentaton Laboratory (NSL)- 50 Years of Soil & Water Research in a Changing Agricultural Environment, Sept. 3-5, 2008, Oxford, MS. 2009 CD-ROM.

Interpretive Summary: Water resources are under growing pressure globally, and in the face of projected climate change, uncertainty about precipitation frequency and intensity; evapotranspiration, runoff, and snowmelt poses severe societal challenges. Environmental research across natural and social sciences to address challenges in water resource management will require comprehensive and long-term data. In the last two decades, progress in the study of information and its manipulation via computer-based tools has stimulated the development of data systems in many natural resources disciplines. Such data systems provide data storage, access, visualization, perhaps with analysis/modeling tools, and download capacity. Application of database technology can overcome problems of fragmentation, inadequate documentation, and cumbersome manipulation of complex data. Data management was identified as a critical requirement for USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) which was established to quantify environmental effects of agricultural conservation practices. Although the USDA and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have conducted watershed research since early in the 20th century, the data have been managed and disseminated independently from each research location, greatly reducing accessibility and utility of these data for policy-relevant, multi-site analyses. To address these concerns, STEWARDS (Sustaining the Earth’s Watersheds, Agricultural Research Data System) was developed to compile, document and provide access to data from loosely coupled ARS research watersheds. The paper identifies technological advances in data management, assesses key organizational challenges, and discusses the role of data management in a USDA watershed research initiative, the Conservation Effects Assessment Project.

Technical Abstract: Water resources are under growing pressure globally, and in the face of projected climate change, uncertainty about precipitation frequency and intensity; evapotranspiration, runoff, and snowmelt poses severe societal challenges. Interdisciplinary environmental research across natural and social sciences to address challenges in water resource management will require comprehensive and long-term data. In the last two decades, progress in the study of information (informatics) and its manipulation via computer-based tools has stimulated the development of data systems in many natural resources disciplines. Such informatics systems provide data storage, access, visualization, perhaps with analysis/modeling tools, and download capacity. Application of database technology can overcome problems of fragmentation, inadequate documentation, and cumbersome manipulation of complex data. Data management was identified as a critical requirement for USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) which was established to quantify environmental effects of agricultural conservation practices. Although the USDA and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have conducted watershed research since early in the 20th century, the data have been managed and disseminated independently from each research location, greatly reducing accessibility and utility of these data for policy-relevant, multi-site analyses. To address these concerns, STEWARDS (Sustaining the Earth’s Watersheds, Agricultural Research Data System) was developed to compile, document and provide access to data from loosely coupled ARS research watersheds. The paper identifies technological advances in data management, assesses key organizational challenges, and discusses the role of data management in a USDA watershed research initiative, the Conservation Effects Assessment Project.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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