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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT AND ANALYSIS OF PHYSICAL LANDSCAPE PROCESSES THAT IMPACT THE QUALITY AND MANAGEMENT OF AGRICULTURAL WATERSHEDS

Location: Watershed Physical Processes Research Unit

Title: The National Sedimentation Laboratory: 50 years of soil and water research in a changing environment

Authors
item Langendoen, Eddy
item Shields Jr, Fletcher
item Romkens, Mathias

Submitted to: Ecohydrology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 8, 2009
Publication Date: August 10, 2009
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/58289
Citation: Langendoen, E.J., Shields Jr, F.D., Romkens, M.J. 2009. The National Sedimentation Laboratory: 50 years of soil and water research in a changing environment. Ecohydrology. 2:227-234.

Interpretive Summary: The advent of European settlement and the consequent deforestation and cultivation of the landscape of much of North America has led to large-scale soil loss. The effects of which can still be felt currently. In 1958 the National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL) was founded in Oxford, Mississippi to find solutions to problems associated with soil erosion and sediment delivery from upland areas, erosion and sedimentation in stream channels, the impact of sediment and other agricultural contaminants on the biological well-being of surface waters. A symposium was held Sep. 3-5, 2008 in Oxford to celebrate NSL’s 50th anniversary. Papers presented at the NSL 50th anniversary symposium represent an impressive and broad array of scientific achievement. However, a frank assessment of these achievements in light of environmental problems now plaguing the planet reveals that much work is left to be done. Major challenges for the next 50 years by the NSL and likeminded workers worldwide include refinement of numerical models and wider use of ‘numerical experiments’ by researchers and resource managers. These models should be equipped to access ever larger data sets fed by networks of reliable sensors. Both fundamental and applied work are needed to create a new ethic in land management that is based on management of natural processes to purify water and rebalance the use of resources to produce crops and to sustain natural ecosystems. Future farmers should have far greater control of the movement of water, soil and nutrients that will prevent damages to downstream resources.

Technical Abstract: The papers in this issue are based on selected presentations made at a symposium convened to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the National Sedimentation Laboratory (NSL) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), located in Oxford, Mississippi. The mission of the NSL is to find solutions to problems associated with soil erosion and sediment delivery from upland areas, erosion and sedimentation in stream channels, the impact of sediment and other agricultural contaminants on the biological well-being of receiving surface waters, and the loss of nutrients and agricultural chemicals from agricultural activities on the landscape. The papers in this issue present a broad overview of current research activities by NSL scientists and their colleagues.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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