Source: AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE submitted to
CONSERVATION EFFECTS ASSESSMENT PROJECT - THE ARS WATERSHED ASSESSMENT STUDY
Sponsoring Institution
Agricultural Research Service/USDA
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0409937
Grant No.
(N/A)
Project No.
3622-13000-009-00L
Proposal No.
(N/A)
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
(N/A)
Project Start Date
Jun 1, 2006
Project End Date
May 31, 2011
Grant Year
(N/A)
Project Director
SADLER E J
Recipient Organization
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE
(N/A)
COLUMBIA,MO 65211
Performing Department
(N/A)
Non Technical Summary
(N/A)
Animal Health Component
80%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
10%
Applied
80%
Developmental
10%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1120210200010%
1120310107010%
1120310205030%
1010320202020%
1010320301030%
Goals / Objectives
The objectives of this project are to support a national assessment of the environmental effects of USDA conservation programs by providing detailed findings for a few intensively studied watersheds and to improve the performance of models to be used in the assessment. Specific objectives are: 1) Develop and implement a data system to organize water, soil, management, and socio-economic watershed data; 2) Quantify water quality, water quantity, soil quality, and ecosystem effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale; 3) Validate models and quantify uncertainties of model prediction; 4) Develop and apply policy-planning tools to aid selection and placement of conservation practices to optimize profits, environmental quality, and conservation practice efficiency; and 5) Develop regional watershed models that quantify environmental outcomes of conservation practices.
Project Methods
The general approach is the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data from 14 ARS Benchmark Watersheds and the testing and evaluation of models for the national assessment. Conservation practices are being applied on the 14 watersheds. Development and testing of watershed models will be associated with the 14 watersheds. The watersheds provide a cross-section of climate, soils, land use, topography, and crops across major production regions of the U.S. The research will be carefully coordinated. Six multi-location teams will guide the research, with a specific team being responsible for each of the five objectives and a sixth team providing quality assurance guidelines for the other teams. This multi-location project will be affiliated with the following location-specific projects: 1265-13610-026-00D, 1902-13000-010-00D, 3602-12000-011-00D, 3602-12220-NEW-00D, 3604-13000-007-00D, 3622-12130-003-00D, 3625-12130-003-00D, 3625-13000-008-00D, 5358-21410-002-00D, 5368-13000-006-00D, 5402-13660-006-00D, 6206-13610-005-00D, 6218-13000-009-00D, 6408-13000-017-00D, 6408-13660-005-00D, 6602-13000-020-00D, 6602-13000-021-00D.

Progress 06/01/06 to 05/31/11

Outputs
Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) The objectives of this project are to support a national assessment of the environmental effects of USDA conservation programs by providing detailed findings for a few intensively studied watersheds and to improve the performance of models to be used in the assessment. Specific objectives are: 1) Develop and implement a data system to organize water, soil, management, and socio-economic watershed data; 2) Quantify water quality, water quantity, soil quality, and ecosystem effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale; 3) Validate models and quantify uncertainties of model prediction; 4) Develop and apply policy- planning tools to aid selection and placement of conservation practices to optimize profits, environmental quality, and conservation practice efficiency; and 5) Develop regional watershed models that quantify environmental outcomes of conservation practices. Approach (from AD-416) The general approach is the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data from 14 ARS Benchmark Watersheds and the testing and evaluation of models for the national assessment. Conservation practices are being applied on the 14 watersheds. Development and testing of watershed models will be associated with the 14 watersheds. The watersheds provide a cross-section of climate, soils, land use, topography, and crops across major production regions of the U.S. The research will be carefully coordinated. Six multi-location teams will guide the research, with a specific team being responsible for each of the five objectives and a sixth team providing quality assurance guidelines for the other teams. This multi-location project will be affiliated with the following location-specific projects: 1265-13610-026-00D, 1902-13000-010-00D, 3602- 12000-011-00D, 3602-12220-NEW-00D, 3604-13000-007-00D, 3622-12130-003-00D, 3625-12130-003-00D, 3625-13000-008-00D, 5358-21410-002-00D, 5368-13000- 006-00D, 5402-13660-006-00D, 6206-13610-005-00D, 6218-13000-009-00D, 6408- 13000-017-00D, 6408-13660-005-00D, 6602-13000-020-00D, 6602-13000-021-00D. Sustaining the Earth's Watersheds Agricultural Research Data System (STEWARDS) web site was made available to the public. Currently, it is populated with data from all 14 ARS benchmark watersheds. Data sets submitted to date range from basic weather and hydrology data (e.g., precipitation and stream discharge) to long-term water quality data for multiple parameters (nutrients, sediment, pesticides). Ditch drainage fields can increase export of agricultural nutrients from croplands. Assessment of ditch drainage management to regulate nutrient movement by ditches in the Choptank has helped add control drainage management to the Maryland Department of Agriculture water quality cost share program. Routine fish sampling was completed on Beasley Lake, Mississippi, in August 2011. Weather and lake water quality data (1995 to 2010) have been uploaded to STEWARDS for review, and additional meteorological and runoff data will be uploaded by December 2011. Soil Quality Assessment data sets for 14 Cropland Conservation Effects Assessment Progect watersheds and two Natural Resources Conservation Service Special Emphasis watersheds have nearly been completed. There are only a few missing analyses from selected sites and these are anticipated to be finished by the end of 2011. The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (JBNERR) is a semi- enclosed ecosystem along the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. Agriculture, including vegetable, row crop, tree fruit, pasture, and poultry, is an important land use within the watershed. ARS researchers at Tifton, Georgia identified an agricultural field near the land/estuary interface for detailed study. Groundwater and water quality studies in the area indicate that the primary mode of transport to the estuary is through surface runoff generated during intense rainfall events. Groundwater transport is expected to be low due to low rates of movement in the surface aquifer. These findings should be valuable to management agencies selecting conservation practices that will reduce surface runoff and agricultural chemical loading to the bay during these intense rainfall events. Several locations reported progress in the use of simulation models for assessing the impacts of various management strategies for improving water quality. ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, and Fort Collins, Colorado, used the Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM2) to assess the effects of water table management on nitrogen transport to groundwater. ARS researchers at El Reno, Oklahoma used data from a rapid geomorphic assessment to parameterize the SWAT model to assess strategies for reducing streambank erosion. ARS researchers at Tifton, Georgia, in cooperation with ARS researchers in Temple, Texas, and researchers at Tarleton State University incorporated riparian buffer processes into the SWAT and APEX models. These new simulation tools appear to offer significant improvements in the way riparian buffers are simulated in these models. Accomplishments 01 ARS researchers in Columbia, Missouri: Herbicide transport trends in Goodwater Creek Experimental Watershed. Farmers in the Midwestern United States continue to rely on soil-applied herbicides for weed control in r crop production, and herbicide contamination of surface waters, especial in runoff-prone watersheds, remains an environmental problem. The objective of these studies was to analyze trends in concentration and ma of atrazine, acetochlor, alachlor, metolachlor, and metribuzin in Goodwater Creek Experimental Watershed (GCEW) Missouri, from 1992 to 200 Trends were only apparent for those compounds that had major changes in usage (metolachlor, alachlor, and acetochlor) while atrazine and metribuzin showed no significant trends in concentration or mass transported. The mass of these herbicides transported to the stream was generally related to the amount of stream flow in the 2nd quarter of the year when they are applied to fields. Other key factors controlling annu variation in herbicide loads are the interaction of planting progress wi runoff events and soil dissipation rate. Despite extensive education and outreach efforts in the watershed, conservation best management practice within GCEW were mainly implemented to control erosion, rather than redu herbicide transport. 02 ARS researchers in Columbia, Missouri: Vegetative buffer strips reduce transport of organic contaminants in surface runoff. The effectiveness o vegetative buffer strips (VBS) for reducing the hydrologic transport of herbicides and veterinary antibiotics (VAs) requires a combination of altered surface hydrology to initially trap contaminants followed by enhanced soil degradation. Two separate, but related, studies were conducted to investigate the effectiveness of VBS for reducing the hydrologic transport of herbicides and VAs: 1) a plot-scale rainfall simulation study with three VBS designs and a control treatment (no plan to assess the ability of VBS to reduce the transport of three herbicide and three VAs in surface runoff; and 2) a growth chamber study, in which the effect of seven forage species on soil degradation of the herbicide, atrazine, was investigated. All VBS significantly reduced the transport herbicides (atrazine, metolachlor, glyphosate) and VAs (sulfamethazine, tylosin, enrofloxacin) in surface runoff, with native grass VBS most effective for reducing herbicide transport and tall fescue VBS most effective at reducing VA transport. Equations developed to relate buffer width and load reduction provide needed design criteria for implementati All forages tested showed significant increases in atrazine degradation compared to soil without plants, with eastern gammagrass, smooth bromegrass, and switchgrass showing the greatest ability to enhance soil degradation of atrazine. Overall, these studies demonstrated that VBS ar effective at reducing contamination of water resources by herbicides and VAs via a two-step process in which: 1) the contaminants are initially deposited within the VBS by sediment trapping and/or improved infiltrati and 2) accelerated degradation of the contaminants occurs following deposition in the VBS soil. 03 ARS researchers in Columbia, Missouri: Identification of the strengths a weaknesses of the pathogen module in Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWA In 2001, a pathogen module was inserted in the SWAT, a computer simulation program that simulates the movement of water and pollutants i agricultural watersheds. A review of the results obtained by different modelers was needed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the model. Five case studies were reviewed, including one in which an ARS researche collaborated with scientists from the French Institute for the Explorati of the Sea (IFREMER) to use the SWAT model to simulate pathogen transpor in a coastal watershed and estimate the impacts of contamination on shellfish production by linking SWAT to a hydrodynamic model of the coastal waters. This application in itself expands the range of application of SWAT. The review highlighted and compared these applications in terms of sampling protocols, input parameter values, and how well the model simulated concentrations. In all case studies reviewe direct bacteria inputs into streams had a major impact on the model results, in part because of the sampling protocol that over-characterize base flow conditions. Results indicate the need for better stream sampli procedures that allow bacterial analysis of storm water samples and for additional field studies to revise and fine-tune the equations that simulate the transport of bacteria in surface runoff. These results are useful for scientists who are planning research in this field and for model users who look for information on the model�s capabilities and limitations. 04 ARS researchers at Ames, Iowa: Watershed studies that were part of USDA- ARS�s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) reviewed. CEAP watershed research at 14 ARS locations included watershed modeling, fiel studies to assess practices, and evaluation of practice placement in watersheds. Identifying water quality impacts from conservation practice in large agricultural watersheds is challenging: field studies show conservation practices improve water quality, but water quality problems have persisted in larger watersheds. This apparent dissociation between practice-focused assessment and watershed monitoring occurred because: 1 Conservation practices were not targeted according to critical sources a pathways of contaminants; 2) Sediment in streams often originated more from channel and bank erosion than from erosion of soil in fields; 3) Timing lags, historical legacies, and shifting climate combined to mask effects of practice implementation; and 4) Water quality management strategies that address single contaminants do not consider inherent tra offs among multiple contaminants. These lessons can be leveraged to improve strategies for implementing conservation programs and to set wat quality goals with realistic timelines. 05 ARS researchers at Ames, Iowa: Trace contaminants in woodchip bioreactor evaluated. Woodchip bioreactors are promising new technology to remove nitrate from the Mississippi River Basin and reduce hypoxia in the Gulf Mexico. The woodchips support populations of bacteria which convert nitrate to nitrogen gas, a process called denitrification. ARS scientist and Iowa State University scientists examined the potential of these bioreactors to remove agricultural chemicals from field drainage water. Two antibiotics and a herbicide were rapidly removed from water in a laboratory-scale woodchip bioreactor. The mechanism of removal appears t be binding to the woodchips. Two antibiotics, enrofloxacin and sulfamethazine, temporarily suppressed denitrification activity and reduced populations of denitrifying bacteria. The herbicide atrazine did not affect denitrification. Woodchip bioreactors, which are effective in nitrate removal, will also remove pesticides and veterinary antibiotics from drainage water. This information will be of use to farmers and stat and federal action agencies in setting priorities for the expenditure of conservation monies to improve surface waters affected by excess nitrate 06 ARS researchers at Ames, Iowa, and Oxford, Mississippi: Examining the ro of wetlands in watershed water quality management. Nutrient removal wetlands can reduce watershed nitrate loads and provide other ecosystem services, but their placement and contributions to nutrient reduction wi need to be determined on a watershed specific basis. ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, and Oxford, Mississippi, collaborated with researchers at Io State University and The Wetlands Initiative obtained detailed topograph data for a 16,000-acre watershed in Illinois through a laser altimetry (LiDAR) survey. Applying conservative selection criteria, they identifie 11 sites that could be converted to wetlands with minimal loss of productive cropland. These wetlands could intercept and treat tile drainage from 30 percent of the watershed. A modeling exercise showed th these wetlands could reduce nitrate loads from the watershed by as much 16 percent. However load reductions among the wetland locations varied considerably, depending on watershed-to-wetland area ratios, and nitrate loads generated above each wetland that depended on differing land uses. These issues will need to be considered by policy makers interested in developing incentive structures that encourage wetlands, including the establishment of nutrient trading schemes. 07 ARS researchers in Ames, Iowa, and Ft. Collins, Colorado: Water table control, nitrogen (N) rate, and weather affect nitrate loss to subsurfac drainage. Control of subsurface drainage can reduce nitrate loss to tile flow, but the effects may vary with different N application rates and weather conditions. ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, and Fort Collins, Colorado, used the Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM2) to investigate long-term effects of controlled drainage. Changing from free to controll drainage reduced measured annual N loss in tile flow by 22 percent, but the model over-predicted this effect by 10 percent, possibly because surface slope reduced the effect but was not simulated by the model. Lon term RZWQM2 simulations (1996-2008) suggest that N loss might be reduced by 39 percent through controlled drainage and decreased N rates, with minimal decreases in corn yield. This research will help agricultural scientists better understand effects of controlled drainage towards and its potential role in reducing N losses from tile drainage. 08 ARS researchers in Ames, Iowa: Soil Quality Assessment data sets for 14 Cropland Conservation Effects Assessment Progect (CEAP) watersheds and t Natural Resources Conservation Service Special Emphasis watersheds have nearly been completed. There are only a few missing analyses from select sites and these are anticipated to be finished by the end of 2011. The first CEAP soil quality assessment manuscript, developed for the South Fork watershed in Iowa, has been accepted for publication in the Soil Science Society of America Journal. It showed that when the data were separated by areas of normal or poor corn canopy development, mean indicator values were slightly lower in poor canopy areas. Using multipl soil parameters, the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) confirm that areas with poor canopy development had lower overall soil quality ratings, but no single indicator scored the lowest in all 50 fields. Whe the data were separated by landscape position (hilltop, sideslope, toeslope or depression) or by previous crop (corn or soybean), soil organic carbon was the only significantly different property between wel and poorly-developed canopy areas. A majority of fields had multiple indicators that, when scored using the SMAF, had ratings that were at least ten percent lower in the poorly-developed canopy areas than in wel developed areas. This field-by-field assessment showed that even across these highly-productive croplands, soil quality variation is directly related to crop canopy development. Soil quality assessment thus provide an approach for identifying soil-based causes for differences in crop productivity. 09 ARS researchers in El Reno, Oklahoma: Rapid geomorphic assessment successfully integrated into SWAT to evaluate conservation practices. La of data for hydrologic models, such as the Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), for model parameterization and evaluation remains a weakness to modeling globally. Scientists utilized low-cost geomorphic data, obtaine through rapid geomorphic assessment (RGA), to parameterize SWAT stream channel variables. The study was conducted in southwestern Oklahoma with the Cobb Creek sub-watershed. Model simulations of reservoir sedimentati were compared to long-term average annual reservoir sedimentation rates obtained from a bathymetric survey measured from an acoustic profiling system (APS). In the modeling study, application of riparian buffers alo unstable stream reaches identified by the RGA reduced suspended sediment concentration at the sub-watershed outlet by 67 percent, which is within the same order of magnitude as the findings of previous field studies. Study results indicate promise for using the RGA and APS methods to obta data to improve water quality simulations in ungauged watersheds. 10 ARS researchers in Tifton, Georgia: Assessment of the impact of agriculture on the Jobos Bay National Estuary: The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (JBNERR) is a semi-enclosed ecosystem along t southeast coast of Puerto Rico. Agriculture, including vegetable, row cr tree fruit, pasture, and poultry, is an important land use within the watershed. To better understand the potential impact of agriculture on JBNERR, the watershed was designated as the first USDA tropical Conservation Effects Assessment Progect. ARS researchers at Tifton, Georgia, identified an agricultural field near the land/estuary interfac for detailed study. Groundwater and water quality studies in the area indicate that the primary mode of transport to the estuary is through surface runoff generated during intense rainfall events. Groundwater transport is expected to be low due to low rates of movement in the surface aquifer. These findings should be valuable to management agencie selecting conservation practices that will reduce surface runoff and agricultural chemical loading to the bay during these intense rainfall events. 11 ARS researchers in Tifton, Georgia, and Temple, Texas: Simulation of riparian buffers impact on water quantity and quality in the Coastal Plain: Riparian buffers are an extremely important component of Coastal Plain Watersheds, dramatically impacting the quality of surface and subsurface flow reaching Coastal Plain streams. Until recently, large scale watershed simulation models have not adequately addressed these riparian buffers in their simulation methods. ARS researchers at Tifton, Georgia, in cooperation with ARS researchers in Temple, Texas, and researchers at Tarleton State University in Waco, Texas, incorporated these functions into the Soil Water Assessment Tool and Agricultural Policy Environmental Extender (APEX) models. Preliminary tests were conducted to examine the accuracy of the new simulation methods. These n simulation tools appear to offer significant improvements in the way riparian buffers are simulated in these models. 12 ARS researchers in Tifton, Georgia: Transition to a glyphosate-resistant world: While glyphosate is relatively non toxic to humans and environmen impacts are small, intense use of this product has been accompanied by t evolution of glyphosate-resistant populations of several economically damaging weeds. Some of the most promising replacement herbicides for cotton growers in the Southeastern USA are products that contain the active ingredient fomesafen. While effective, concerns persist about the potential for fomesafen to be carried into rivers and streams with stormwater runoff from treated fields. We conducted studies to evaluate two mitigation strategies, incorporation with irrigation after herbicide application and use of conservation-tillage. Both practices were found t reduce fomesafen runoff potential by more than 2-fold. Results indicate that these practices should be implemented wherever possible to reduce fomesafen runoff risk. 13 ARS researchers in Tifton, Georgia: Windows of risk at the interface between weather and soil management: Runoff and sediment losses measured from one of region�s most productive soils, the Tifton loamy sand, provided information on how conservation tillage can reduce losses and help producers manage natural resources and agrichemical losses from peanut cropping systems. We quantified losses at 3 times during the growing season: at-planting, early postemergence (4 weeks), and after digging and harvest. Runoff ranged from 9-22 percent of applied rainfall and sediment yields were from 100 to 1400 kg ha-1. The conventional till plots averaged 60 percent more runoff and 3.3-fold more sediment loss th strip till plots. The most runoff was observed from conventional till plots in the Fall and the least from strip till plots in the Summer. The most sediment loss was from conventional till plots in the Spring and th least from strip till plots in the Summer. These results are important f conservation program planning in that they demonstrate the added value conservation tillage can provide during the peak water demand period of the summer (increased infiltration) and during the period of highest erosion risk (spring planting). 14 ARS researchers in Oxford, Mississippi: Fraction of sediment derived fro channel sources determined for watersheds. Determining the dominant sources of sediment in agricultural watersheds is important for designin practices that will reduce sediment loads to streams. Measurements using naturally occurring radionuclides to track sediment on CEAP have reveale that most of the sediment in the studied watersheds was derived from channel sources. This indicates that if erosion control practices reduce sediment concentration without reducing runoff volumes from fields, sediment loading in the channels may not be significantly reduced. Information on the sources of sediment is essential for watershed manage to design effective sediment control measures on agricultural watersheds 15 ARS researchers in Oxford, Mississippi: Sediment contributions from streambanks are a significant source of sediment in several Conservation Effects Assessment Progect (CEAP) watersheds. Conservation efforts to reduce sediment loadings to receiving streams and other water bodies may only be successful if mitigation measures target the major sources of sediment. Channel sources are largely ignored. Results of research show that Conservation Effects Assessment Progect watersheds such as Fort Co and Little Washita, Oklahoma, Goodwin Creek, Mississippi, South Fork Iow River, Iowa, and Town Branch, New York, produce substantially more sediment than those from stable channels in their respective regions. In some cases, these streams produce orders of magnitude more sediment than their stable counterparts. Reconnaissance of these channels showed that they are dominated by streambank erosion while in comparison, the Little River, Georgia, a stream in dynamic equilibrium without accelerated rate of bank erosion, displayed transport rates similar to calculated background rates. Knowledge of the dominant sources of sediment is necessary for the designing and implementation of measures to stabilize the channels in watersheds and reduce the impacts to aquatic communities and surface-water supplies. 16 ARS researchers in Temple, Texas: New algorithms were developed for a river basin scale model called Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) to simulate on-site septic systems, stream sediment routing, urban manageme practices, improved phosphorus fate and transport, and stream health. Th new algorithms are currently being tested at watersheds across the Unite States. As part of the Conservation Effects Assessment Progect (CEAP) National Cropland Assessment, SWAT was validated at more than 70 United States Geological Survey stream gages across the country to assure realistic simulation of stream flow, sediment, nutrient and pesticide (atrazine) loads. Final SWAT validation and scenario analysis was completed on the Upper Mississippi river basin, the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Ohio-Tennessee river basin, and the Great Lakes watershed The reports are under review and draft versions are available at the CEA website. Validation and scenario analysis has been completed for the Missouri, Arkansas-Red, and Lower Mississippi river basins and reports a being developed. The scenario runs are being used to identify places whe conservation practices such as conservation tillage, terraces, and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will be most efficient and provide th greatest benefits. This will help guide USDA conservation policy and Far Bill debate. The model is also being used in more than 30 states by US Environmental Protection Agency and is impacting the selection of land management alternatives to resolve water quality concerns. 17 ARS researchers in Columbus, Ohio: Identified need to pair the use of grass filter strips with other conservation practices to improve water quality in channelized agricultural headwater streams. Grass filter stri are a widely used conservation practice in the midwestern United States, but the ecological effects of this practice on agricultural streams has not been evaluated. ARS Scientists from Columbus, Ohio conducted preliminary assessment of the effect of grass filter strips on the physical habitat, water chemistry, and stream communities within channelized agricultural headwater streams. Installation of grass filter strips did not influence vegetative structure, vegetative type, channel form, instream habitat, water chemistry, or the stream biota. Our result suggest that grass filter strips may only widen the riparian zones adjacent to channelized agricultural headwater streams and may only provide limited ecological benefits, unless used in combination with oth conservation practices. These results will be useful for state, federal, and private agencies involved managing agricultural watersheds to assist them in meeting their conservation and restoration goals. 18 ARS researchers at Beltsville, Maryland: Wetland hydrology is an important parameter controlling wetland ecosystem services such as nutrient fate in agricultural landscapes but wide-scale forested wetland hydrology has been difficult to study with conventional remote sensing methods. A comparison between LIght Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) intensity data collected during peak hydrologic expression of wetlands demonstrated the strong potential of these data for mapping wetland inundation (>96 percent accurate). Additionally LIDAR provides very intensive topographic information which was found useful for predicting wetland location in the landscape. The ability to more accurately map an monitor wetland function in agricultural landscapes should greatly impro watershed and regional assessments of the impact of these ecosystems on water quality as well as impact of agriculture on health sensitive water bodies such as the Chesapeake Bay. 19 ARS researchers in Betlsville, Maryland: Ditch drainage of agricultural fields can expedite movement of nutrients into surface waters and increa export of agricultural nutrients from croplands. Assessment, by Conservation Effects Assessment Progect scientists, of effectiveness of ditch drainage management to regulate agricultural nutrient movement by ditches in the Choptank has led to the inclusion of control drainage management in the Maryland Department of Agriculture water quality cost share program. 20 ARS researchers in Beltsville, Maryland: Cover crops program has recentl grown extensively, from less than $1M in 2004 to nearly $18M as incentiv cost shared program in 2010. There is however a need for a well tested a validated management tool/model for quantitative assessment of this BPM program at watershed as well as State levels. Through Conservation Effec Assessment Progect program at the Choptank watershed, ARS scientists are involved in testing and validation of ARS watershed model SWAT at severa subbasins above the tidal lines within the Choptank watershed. This has included one of the largest subbasins, the German Branch (GB), and work underway to validate SWAT model for the whole Tuckahoe Branch covering nearly 700 square miles. Since quality of precipitation data is critica for appropriate application of Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model a the fact that there was no dense rain gauge network available within the GB subbasin, we examined the implications of using surface rain gauge an next-generation radar (NEXRAD) precipitation datasets on the performance of the SWAT model. Overall, correcting NEXRAD with rain gauge data showe promise and produced better hydrologic model calibration with respect to stream flow at the outlet of the watershed. The optimal water balance obtained using this approach is an essential precursor to acquiring realistic water balance as well as estimates of sediment and nutrient loads in further Tuckahoe Branch model assessment. It is anticipated tha a well-tested SWAT model at the Tuckahoe Branch will be a valuable management tool that can be used for evaluation of cover crop and other best management practice's within the Choptank watershed. 21 ARS researchers at Fort Collins, Colorado: Computer simulations extend experimental field data on fertilizer effects for tile-drained fields. Agroecosystem models have not been widely used to capture the variabilit of nitrogen concentration in tile drainage at a wide range of nitrogen application rates. Scientists at Fort Collins, Colorado, and Ames, Iowa, evaluated the performance of the RZWQM2 in simulating the response of nitrogen concentration in tile drainage to different nitrogen applicatio rates. A 16-year field study conducted in Iowa from 1989 to 2004 was use to evaluate the model, based on previous calibration with data from 2005 2009 at this site. The results showed that the RZWQM2 model accurately simulated the response of nitrogen concentration in tile drainage to nitrogen fertilizer rate. This study supports the use of RZWQM2 as a management tool for helping agricultural managers and decision makers address water quality concerns in tile-drained systems. 22 ARS researchers at Fort Collins, Colorado: Release of Object Modeling System (OMS) Version 3.1. ARS scientists and collaborators at Fort Colli Colorado released the Object Modeling System (OMS) 3.1 framework for environmental model development. OMS 3.1 includes improved methodology f developing and connecting science components in Formula Translating Syst (FORTRAN). A new Cloud Services Innovation Platform (CSIP) was developed which utilizes OMS3 as the underlying vehicle for model distribution. Th Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation 2 (RUSLE2) model was successfully tested as a cloud computer application under CSIP. Modeling projects currently being implemented in OMS3 by ARS, US Army Corps of Engineers, United States Geological Survey (USGS), and university partners will result in cost reductions in terms of model development, deployment, maintenance, and ongoing application. 23 ARS researchers at Fort Collins, Colorado: Simulating plant phenological responses to water deficits improves watershed scale models. Modeling spatial relationships in plant growth and yield across a watershed requires having a phenology model that accurately simulates crop development responses across a landscape with varying water deficits. To address this problem, ARS scientists at Fort Collins, Colorado, independently released PhenologyMMS (Modular Modeling System) Version 1. and also integrated core science code into the Unified Plant Growth Mode (UPGM). The PhenologyMMS software, which was highlighted in the May/June 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, has received over 500 subsequent downloads, and numerous direct requests for more information and explanation including the popular press. 24 ARS researchers at West Lafayette, Indiana: To better assess the impacts of conservation buffers and grasslands on water quality at large spatial scales, development and integration of novel approaches are crucial to ensure that these land management practices are functioning properly and meeting their original goals. Recent developments in remote sensing technology have greatly enriched the availability of geospatial data tha can be used in hydrological modeling to assess the potential hydrologica response of conservation practices over larger areas. A methodology was developed using the object-based image analysis approach with Landsat-5 imagery of the year 2005 (OBIA-2005) to quantify conservation buffers an grasslands. The OBIA-2005 land cover data was used in the SWAT hydrologi model to assess the impacts of vegetative conservation practices on tota phosphorus (TP) loads. The model was calibrated and validated for discharge and TP loads in the St. Joseph River watershed (SJRW) in northeast Indiana. Vegetative buffers of 30.5m and 61m combined with conservation grasslands generated from the OBIA-2005 resulted in a large reduction of TP loads as compared to no practices. The results also show that including conservation grassland alone reduced TP loads by less tha 2 percent. However, the combination of these practices with the width of edge-of-field buffer strips module of the SWAT model achieved the larges TP loads reduction. These findings demonstrate that improved representation of vegetative conservation practices in geospatial land cover data sets are effective in assessing their impacts on water qualit through hydrologic modeling. 25 ARS researchers at University Park, Pennsylvania: Mahantango Creek Watershed data uploaded to STEWARDS: A forty year record of precipitatio and stream flow data and a twenty four year record of water quality data from the USDA-ARS Mahantango Creek Watershed in Pennsylvania were upload to the STEWARDS database. A series of four journal articles describing t physiography and history of the watershed and associated databases were published in Water Resources Research, a peer-reviewed journal. These journal articles and databases enable and facilitate the use of these da by the general public and scientific community. The Mahantango Creek Watershed is one of a network of 14 USDA-ARS long term research watershe across the United States that allow for comparative studies of watershed processes and global change.

Impacts
(N/A)

Publications


    Progress 10/01/09 to 09/30/10

    Outputs
    Progress Report Sustaining the Earth's Watersheds Agricultural Research Data System (STEWARDS) web site was made available to the public. Currently, it is populated with data from 13 ARS benchmark watersheds, comprising more than 500 individual measurement sites of up to 35 years of records, totaling well in excess of 10M geospatially and temporally documented data records and comprehensive metadata. Soil quality assessments on the CEAP Cropland sites are progressing very well. Samples have been collected from 13 of the original 14 CEAP Cropland Watershed sites. They have also been collected from a transitional organic farm in New Hampshire (sampled in lieu of the Town Brook Watershed in NY), the NRCS CEAP Special Emphasis Watershed site in Puerto Rico, and the NRCS Chaney Lake watershed in Kansas. Texture, bulk density, water stable aggregation, microbial biomass carbon, acidity (pH), electrical conductivity (EC), total organic carbon and N, nitrate and ammonium N, Mehlich extractable P, K, Ca, and Mg, diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA) extractable micronutrient levels, and beta- glucosidase analyses for all samples are projected to be completed by the end of 2010. Data analysis is progressing using appropriate statistical approaches for comparisons at each watershed location. Measured data, scored values after entering the data into the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) and overall soil quality index (SQI) values based on the average of all SMAF scored indicators are being examined. To complete the initial Cropland CEAP soil quality assessment, samples collected from the Mahantango creek watershed in Pennsylvania during November 2010, will be analyzed in FY11. The CEAP Ecology Working Group developed five guiding principles that will lead to hypothesis driven sampling protocols capable of documenting habitat and biological responses to conservation practices within wadeable streams. The guiding principles were recently published within the Journal of American Water Resources Association. ARS researchers at Kimberly, Idaho, calibrated the modified universal soil loss equation for furrow irrigated fields. This will allow water quality models like SWAT or APEX to be used in irrigated watersheds. Beasley Lake water quality continues to be monitored for water quality and ecology. Fish stocks were assessed in late 2009. To improve lake water quality by trapping sediments, an NRCS-funded sediment retention basin was constructed in 2010. In one ~750 ac Indiana watershed, CEAP scientists worked with local SWCD and farmers to replace all surface tile risers with blind inlets and added equipment to monitor sediment losses. This project has resulted in the adaptation of this technology to be included for cost share as an NRCS CP 690 in the eFOTG for Indiana. Research from the CEAP project has been used to inform the NRCS Mississippi River Basin Initiative Projects in Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Mississippi, both in prioritizing targeted watersheds, and in supporting with ARS data for individual MRBI projects in some states. CEAP researchers are working with NRCS and project staffs on monitoring protocols for the 2010 projects. Accomplishments 01 Columbus, Ohio: Documented public health risks posed by channelized headwater streams. Public health issues related to channelized headwater streams that are common throughout the midwestern United States have not been explored. ARS scientists from Columbus, Ohio documented the public health risks posed by channelized headwater streams by comparing water chemistry and the larval abundances of potential insect disease vectors between channelized and unchannelized headwater streams within central Ohio. Concentrations of commonly occurring nutrients and pesticides was often greater in channelized headwater streams and exceeded national drinking water standards more often. Potential insect vectors of the Wes Nile virus, Lacrosse encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and Eastern Equine encephalitis constituted a small fraction of the overall larval insect captures and abundances did not differ between stream types. Thes results suggest that management of channelized headwater streams may be necessary to reduce the public health risks related to the downstream transport of agricultural nutrients and pesticides. Specifically, agricultural conservation practices capable of reducing nutrient and pesticide loads within channelized headwater streams may assist with the protection of downstream surface drinking water sources. These results also suggest headwater streams in general may not serve as a significant source of potential disease vectors and insecticide application and channelizing these streams for larval mosquito control does not appear t be warranted. 02 Determined the feasibility of an end-of-tile filter approach to reduce nutrient and pesticide transport via subsurface drainage. Subsurface drainage is a necessity for crop production agriculture in humid climate with poorly drained soils. In excess of 20.6 million ha (37%) of the tillable acres in the Midwest are managed with subsurface tile. While partially responsible for consistent high crop production yields, subsurface tile drainage has been recognized as a primary source of agricultural nutrient transport to streams and waterbodies to which they discharge. ARS scientists in cooperation with United States Golf Association (USGA) personnel investigated the feasibility of an end-of- tile filter for treating subsurface drainage waters. The findings sugges that the end-of-tile filter approach could be adapted as a best manageme practice to reduce nutrient and pesticide transport in subsurface tile drainage where the contributing area and flow rates are relatively small Additionally, the findings support further investigation into alternativ sorbent materials and delivery designs that permit larger drainage areas and greater flow rates to be filtered. The beneficiaries of this researc are all downstream water users that use surface water for drinking, recreation, and navigation. 03 Developed baseline water quality signatures from various landscapes (urb agriculture, turf) within an urban to rural gradient. Significant amoun of agricultural lands within the Upper Big Walnut Creek (UBWC) watershed are being lost annually to urban development. Understanding the role of each landuse within the watershed is critical to the development, placement, and assessment of best management practices (BMPs) aimed at reducing and mitigating nonpoint source pollution. ARS scientists in cooperation with Soil Water Conservation District and NRCS personnel and UBWC landowners and operators measured water quality signatures from different landuses. Within the UBWC watershed, datasets have been assembled for agriculture, urban, and turf landscape classifications. Th results suggest that nitrogen is primarily a result of agricultural activities; however, phosphorus contributions are more evenly distribute from across landuses. These datasets will provide state, federal, and private entities a �measuring stick� for assessing the impacts of implementing BMPs across the watershed. 04 Examined influence of riparian habitat type on aquatic community colonization. Previous studies have not examined aquatic community colonization within riparian zones of agricultural headwater streams. Understanding how aquatic community colonization differs between channelized and unchannelized streams is needed to assist with developin riparian management guidelines for these small streams. An ARS scientist and student intern from the Ohio State University evaluated if aquatic community colonization within riparian zones of headwater agricultural streams is influenced by stream channelization. Macroinvertebrate abundance, taxa richness, and relative abundances of mosquitoes, diptera and crustaceans were greater within experimental mesocosms placed in th riparian zones of unchannelized headwater streams than channelized headwater streams. These results suggest stream channelization reduces aquatic community diversity and abundance in riparian zones of headwater agricultural streams. This information can be used by state, federal, an private agencies responsible for managing agricultural watersheds and restoring streams. 05 El Reno, Oklahoma: Spatial resolution of input data sets may impact Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) performance. The level of uncertainty input parameters in hydrologic models has a significant impact on model simulation accuracy and the uncertainty of the resulting model outputs. Two separate studies were conducted in the Fort Cobb Reservoir watershed located in southwestern Oklahoma, to evaluate the impact of spatial resolution of precipitation and soils data sets on SWAT parameters and simulation accuracy. The study findings indicated that varying precipitation data set input resolution impacted some SWAT calibration parameters at both the daily and monthly time scales, but only affected model performance at the daily time scale. Varying the input resolution of the soils input data set had less impact on model parameters and mode performance. Precipitation input spatial resolution could impact the value of certain model parameters used to evaluate the effectiveness of some conservation practices, so caution is urged. 06 Tifton, Georgia: Assessment of Conservation Practice Approaches in the Little River Watershed. USDA has been tasked to determine the effectiveness of federally funded conservation programs. We used the SW model to simulate the water quality effect of upland conservation practices (CPs) commonly adopted in the Little River Experimental Watershed (LREW) for either erosion or nutrient control and compared tho results to the simulated impact of the riparian forest buffers currently in the LREW. Erosion CPs resulted in the greatest reductions in sedimen and phosphorus while nutrient reduction practices were most effective in reducing total stream nitrogen. We also evaluated three different prioritization scenarios for implementing. Prioritizing based upon nonpoint source pollutant load yielded more efficient water quality improvements while the other implementation schemes were less efficient. Riparian forest buffers offered the most comprehensive reduction of all three pollutants. Simulation results indicate that the current level of riparian forest cover in the LREW may be the single greatest contributor to nonpoint source pollutant reduction. 07 Assessment of Conservation Practice Approaches in the Jobos Bay Watershe Groundwater and surface runoff samples collected from February 2008 through December 2009 from an intensively managed agricultural field within the Jobos Bay Watershed were analyzed for nutrient and pesticide concentrations. Nitrate concentrations in the monitoring wells located across the cultivated field ranged from non detectable to 11.40 mg L-1. Nitrate concentrations were consistently highest in monitoring wells located north of the cultivated fields and decreased downslope, indicati minimal impact on nitrate concentrations due to the studied agricultural field. Seasonal nitrate concentrations in riparian wells downslope from the cultivated field were much less than those observed upgradient. Maximum observed groundwater concentrations for atrazine plus its degradates were 0.03 ug L-1 upgradient of the field, 22 ug L-1 within th field, and 0.17 ug L-1 downgradient from the field. These pesticide concentrations indicate significant transport from the field surface to the groundwater within the confines of the agricultural field. The current EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) drinking water standard for this compound and its degradates is 3 ug L-1. Surface runoff samples collected from field drainage indicated significant loss of pesticides d to surface runoff and transport. 08 Oxford, Mississippi (Beasley Lake): Documented long-term improvement in Mississippi Delta lake water quality caused by conservation practice implementation. Fifteen years ago, Beasley Lake was a sediment-damaged oxbow lake with poor water quality and fisheries. The watershed was subjected to a variety of conservation practices with the goal of improving the lake water quality. This research indicates that as conservation practices were implemented within the watershed, water quality continued to improve, as measured by decreases in nutrients and sediments. The latest analyses indicate that nutrient concentrations continue to decline over time and have not yet reached their lowest leve While showing little initial improvement, fish stocks improved dramatically after conservation practices (particularly CRP) were more broadly incorporated within the watershed and water quality improved. Most recently, the numbers of bluegill have declined slightly as largemouth bass have increased in both number and size indicating a need to harvest bass from the system. 09 Oxford, Mississippi (Goodwin Creek and Little Topashaw Canal): Tillage significantly affects ephemeral gully erosion. Ephemeral gully erosion has been shown to be a significant source of sediment from many agricultural fields as a result of soil disturbing tillage operations. The important processes that influence ephemeral gully erosion have been incorporated into the USDA Annualized Agricultural Non-Point Source pollution model (AnnAGNPS) by utilizing procedures developed from basic laboratory research studies. Evaluations of agricultural practices have been performed using AnnAGNPS in watersheds throughout the United States as part of the USDA Conservation Evaluation and Assessment Project (CEAP as well as watersheds in Spain, Italy and China for their effect on sediment delivered from sheet and rill erosion, as well as from ephemera gully erosion. This provides an important tool for action agencies, suc as the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, to evaluate the effe of agricultural conservation practices at field or watershed scales and implement cost effective conservation programs targeted to the most appropriate sources of sediment. (A. Effectiveness of Conservation Practices) 10 Soil erosion by water shown to remain a major problem in many regions of the U.S. Estimates by the USDA suggest that ephemeral gully erosion rang from 18 to 73% of the total erosion. Refilling or removing ephemeral gullies by tillage causes high erosion rates to continue damaging the so next to the gully. The impact of filling ephemeral gullies on crop yield and the health or quality of the soil adjacent to gullies was measured o two gullies in Topashaw Canal Watershed, Mississippi, two gullies in Cheney Lake watershed, KS and two gullies in the Black Soils region of N China. Soil physical, chemical, and biological indicators of soil qualit were measured along transects perpendicular to the gullies and at background locations representing natural conditions. This dataset is being used to determine the best indicators of soil quality and the impa of ephemeral gully erosion on soil quality. This information is important when implementing conservation practices by action agencies wh controlling ephemeral gully erosion. (E. Watershed Management, Water Availability, and Ecosystem Restoration). 11 Ames, Iowa: Denitrifying bioreactors - an approach for reducing nitrate loads in stream waters. Low-cost and simple technologies are needed to reduce export of excess nitrogen in subsurface drainage water to sensiti aquatic ecosystems. Denitrifying bioreactors are an approach where solid carbon substrates are added into the flow path of contaminated water. A scientists in Ames, Iowa, summarized design alternatives for bioreactors their effectiveness, and factors limiting performance. Two common design have proven successful in field settings, with nitrate removal rates ranging up to 22.0 g N m-3 day-1, depending on the type of design, rate water flow, and incoming nitrate concentration. Additionally, bioreactor may reduce transport of veterinary antibiotics (sulfamethazine, enrofloxacin) applied to soil in manure, and transport of the herbicide atrazine, commonly applied to corn, without affecting denitrification rates. Denitrifying bioreactors are cost effective and complementary to other practices that can decrease nitrate loads to surface waters. This information will be of use to farmers and state and federal action agencies in setting priorities for the expenditure of conservation monie to improve surface waters affected by excess nitrate. 12 Potential water quality impact of drainage water management in the Midwe USA. Drainage water management (DWM) is a promising technology for reducing nitrate losses from artificially drained (or �tiled�) fields. While there is an extensive history for the practice in North Carolina, little is known about the efficacy or cost effectiveness of the practice under Midwest conditions where artificial drainage is widely used. ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, used soil and land cover databases with modeli to estimate that 4.8 million ha of land used to grow corn within the Midwest would be suitable for DWM, potentially reducing nitrate loss by approximately 83,000 metric tons (91,300 tons) per year. Considering the cost of control structures, redesign of new drainage systems, and paymen to farmers to adjust the control structures to reduce nitrate losses, th cost per kg of nitrate reduced in drainage water for DWM was estimated a $2.71 ($1.23/lb). This information will be of use to farmers and state a federal action agencies in setting priorities for the expenditure of conservation monies to improve surface water quality. 13 Potential water quality impact of cover crop use in corn-soybean rotatio in the Midwest. Cover crops are a promising management practice for reducing nitrate losses from agricultural fields in the Midwest, because they in effect lengthen the growing season with living plants in fields with a corn-soybean rotation. Oat and rye cover crops are potential cove crops for the Midwest because they grow well in cool weather. Oat does n overwinter, whereas rye is extremely winter-hardy and overwinters easily Over four years an oat cover crop reduced nitrate losses in tile drainag by 39% and the rye cover crop reduced it by 48%. Additionally, cover cro have the potential to increase soil carbon and improve long-term soil productivity. This information will be of use to farmers and state and federal action agencies in setting priorities for the expenditure of conservation monies to improve surface water quality. 14 Improving nitrogen (N) management using simulation models. N fertilizer rates determined using the Late Spring Nitrate Test (LSNT) differ each year because variable spring weather influences the amount of soil N available to the crop. Previous work showed the LSNT was effective in reducing nitrate losses, but adoption of this practice is limited becaus of the time requirement for soil sampling and fertilizer application. AR researchers in Ames, Iowa, used the ARS Root Zone Water Quality Model (RZWQM) to simulate how weather impacts nitrogen in the soil profile and subsequent N fertilizer rates. The model simulated lower nitrate leached when the Late Spring Nitrate Test was used to determine N application rates, compared to fall N fertilizer applications, as observed in a pair watershed study. Early season precipitation and temperature accounted fo 90% of the yearly variation in spring N requirements. This research will help us better understand how weather patterns should be considered in managing nitrogen. This will help us develop simple tools to optimize N fertilizer recommendations with less reliance on soil sampling and analysis that can delay critical crop-management decisions. This would benefit producers by making it easier for farmers to adopt this effectiv conservation practice. 15 Persistence and leaching of the veterinary antibiotic sulfamethazine in soil evaluated in laboratory studies. Degradation occurred in two phases and was described using an availability adjusted first-order model. Unde anerobic conditions sulfamethazine was more persistent than under aerobi conditions. The formation of soil-bound (non-extractable) residues was t primary mechanism of sulfamethazine removal from soil. Leaching studies showed that sulfamethazine is highly mobile in soil. This information is of interest to the public and policy makers who need to understand how antibiotics applied to soil in manure may affect water quality and aquat ecosystems. 16 Improving landscape scale descriptions of soil water variability and movement using topographic data. Crop growth often depends on water supplied to the soil from shallow groundwater, through a process commonl called sub-irrigation. However, in glacial landscapes with "pothole" depressions, this water source becomes variable spatially and difficult predict. Water table depths depend on place in the landscape and time of year. The water table is roughly parallel with the soil surface after spring snowmelt, but not during the growing season when the water table gradients are reduced and are influenced by the positioning of subsurfac drains. Scientists in Ames Iowa found upland positions have the greatest variation in water table depth, whereas lower sites dominated by tile drains have less variation. These descriptions will help scientists estimate groundwater recharge following rainfall, and how much groundwat is taken up to replenish growing crops. This information, obtained using novel technology to monitor soil water storage and movement, is of interest to scientists who want to describe soil water patterns and bett understand crop water use and potential leaching of nutrients and agricultural chemicals at the landscape scale. 17 Groundwater quality during conversion of cropland to a prairie reconstruction. How would water quality change if agricultural land were converted back to native prairie? Opportunities to answer this question rarely occur. ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, tracked nitrate and phosphor (P) in groundwater during establishment of tall-grass prairie vegetation We found nitrate and P contrasted one another. Nitrate decreased within three years, when the prairie first became well established. Thereafter, nitrate was seldom detected in shallow groundwater beneath low-lying drainageways. In groundwater beneath higher parts of the landscape nitra took three years to begin to decrease, but did not fully diminish, and averaged 2 ppm nitrate-N after five years. The landscape differences resulted from greater amounts of leachable N in upland subsoils. Phosphorus showed a different story, and did not change with time during the study. The largest P concentrations in groundwater occurred in low- lying positions, where sediments were deposited that resulted from upslo soil erosion under past tillage. These transported topsoils provide a source of P, and shallow groundwater conditions in these areas help make this P more mobile. P concentrations in these drainageways indicated ris to surface water quality, especially when shallow groundwater rises to t surface and contributes to runoff. The conclusion that in-field depositi of eroded soil can pose a long-term risk for water quality is of concern to stakeholders with interests in agricultural water quality and ecosyst restoration. 18 Managing soils as a part of urban construction projects. During urban construction, topsoil is removed, subsoil is compacted, and only a thin layer of topsoil is returned to the site. Compaction results in poor growth of lawns and trees, increased runoff of nutrients and pesticides, and increased soil erosion. ARS scientists in Ames, Iowa, showed that compost combined with prairie grasses improved water holding capacity an reduced soil erosion compared with a control lawn site. While runoff was not measurably decreased in this short-term experiment, increased water storage should be of long term benefit for restoring the hydrologic functioning of soils disturbed by urban development. This information is of interest to urban planners who desire to remediate urban soil after construction projects are done. 19 West Lafayette, Indiana: Evaluation of Conservation Reserve Program on Phosphorus Loading and NEXRAD Precipitation as Input for SWAT Modeling. This study assessed the impacts of conservation buffers and grasslands o discharge and Total Phosphorus (TP) loads using the SWAT model with a la cover data developed from an Object-Based Image Analysis (OBIA) along wi different precipitation datasets from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory (NSERL), the Next- Generation Radar (NEXRAD), and adjustment of the NEXRAD (NEXRAD-Adjusted in the St. Joseph River Watershed (SJRW) and the Cedar Creek Watershed (CCW) in northeast Indiana. The objectives of this study were: 1) to develop a method to identify vegetated buffers and conservation grasslan using object-based image analysis with high resolution ortho-rectified aerial photography and Landsat satellite imagery; and 2) to assess the impacts of vegetated buffers and conservation grasslands on water qualit using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool hydrologic nonpoint source mode (SWAT) along with different precipitation datasets. This research provid a better means of monitoring existing programs and developing more effective management strategies that can considerably reduce nutrient inputs into water systems. Because the OBIA rules can be applied to different acquisition date of imagery, it should help policy makers and natural resource managers to rapidly quantify areas under the vegetative buffers and conservation grasslands or other similar conservation practices. This information can then be used to assess their impact on t environment. 20 Plot-Scale Research Can Provide Useful Information About Field-Scale Phosphorus Losses. There has been a tremendous amount of research in recent years to determine how management at the field level will impact water quality. The vast majority of this research has been conducted at the plot (i.e. approximately 20 sq ft) scale. We conducted this research to determine if plot scale research could be used to determine differenc in phosphorus transport from fields that were managed differently. Solub phosphorus and total phosphorus losses were generally "directionally" correct, meaning that plots that had greater phosphorus losses were located in the fields with greater phosphorus losses. The impact of this research is that it appears to validate the use of plot scale data to evaluate how management practices affect phosphorus transport at the fie scale. 21 Ditch Dredging Not as Detrimental to Water Quality as Originally Thought In many areas of the country, drainage ditches are necessary for agriculture to exist, otherwise, the fields would be too wet to support the crops. In areas where the soils or ditch banks are erodible, sedimen buildup requires that dredging occur every 5 to 10 years. Our previous research has shown that immediately after dredging, nutrient transport i much greater in the ditches than prior to dredging. In this study, we examined six years (2003 " 2008) of intensive water quality samples on t agricultural drainage ditches. During this period, one of the ditches ha two dredging operations. Using this dataset, we observed removal of nutrients from the water during the 12 months following the dredging (20 lb of NH4-N removed; 14.5 lb of soluble phosphorus removed; and 12 lb of total phosphorus removed). The removal of nutrients from the water resulted in better water quality conveyed to downstream water bodies whe considering either the entire year after dredging, or the individual months " up to 12 months after the dredging activity. We attribute this improvement in water quality to: 1) an improvement in the physicochemica status of the sediments after being exposed, 2) "fresh" sediments that were deposited in the ditch bed after dredging, 3) regrowth and recolonization by the algae and plants, and 4) formation of microbial biofilms on sediments and rocks in the ditch bed. To avoid the detriment impacts on water quality immediately after dredging, and to maximize the benefit of ditch recovery, we propose that ditch managers work with agricultural producers to delay nutrient applications to adjacent fields for at least one month after dredging activities. This should allow the ditches sufficient time to recover their ecological function following dredging. 22 Blind Inlet Implemented as Best Management Practice for Draining Pot-Hol at the Watershed Scale. Isolated pot-holes are a common landscape featu throughout much of the Midwestern United States. While these areas were generally wetlands before settlement, if an isolated pot-hole is located in a field that is farmed, it is generally drained using surface inlets. surface inlet is generally a pipe that acts as a conduit for water and associated contaminants directly to the agricultural drainage ditch, whi may be several miles away. Previous research has shown that these areas are large contributors to contaminants in agricultural drainage ditches. An alternative is to use a blind inlet, also known as a French drain, to drain the surface water from these isolated potholes. Our research has demonstrated that blind inlets can reduce sediment losses from these fields by as much as two thirds compared to what would be expected if ti inlets were used. With up to several hundred acres of isolated pot-holes contributing water and contaminants to a single agricultural drainage ditch, such a reduction in sediment loss could result in a significant improvement in water quality. Furthermore, the reduction in sediment loa to the drainage ditches could reduce maintenance costs, such as those associated with dredging activities that are required when sediments bui up in agriculture drainage ditches and limit the flow of water away from the agricultural fields. Field scale testing of this technology through this project led to cooperating with the DeKalb County SWCS and local farmers to replace all tile risers in a medium size (~750 ac) monitored watershed with blind inlets. This was completed in April 2010. We will complete our first full field season of testing this technology at the watershed scale in November 2010. 23 Beltsville, Maryland:Use of NEXRAD Improves Streams Flow Calibrations in SWAT Model: A Better Precipitation Data-Source for Accurate Water Balanc in Watershed Models. Hydrologic and water quality models are very sensitive to input parameter values, especially precipitation input data We compared several sources of rainfall data with the next generation radar (NEXRAD) rainfall data to examine the impact of such sources on SW model streamflow calibrations for a watershed located in the coastal pla of Maryland. Model simulation results indicated that distance and locati of the rain gauges located outside the watershed boundary have a significant impact in simulating hydrologic and water quality response o the watershed. In the absence of a spatially representative network of rain gauges within the watershed, NEXRAD data produced more accurate estimates of streamflow than using single gage data. This study conclud that one has to be mindful of the source and methods of interpolation of rainfall data for input into hydrologic and water quality models if high�quality simulations are desired. 24 Geospatial Tools for Conservation Effects Assessment in the Chesapeake B Region. Choptank River Conservation Effects Assessment Project has completed five years of field work to support the development and implementation of geospatial adaptive management tools for cover crop management. Developed in collaboration with United States Geologic Surv and the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the tools combine field- specific conservation program enrollment data with satellite imagery analysis for rapid quantification, verification and certification of cov crop performance. Now that the methodologies have been successfully developed, Maryland is currently beta-testing technology transfer of the geospatial cover crop management toolkits at the Talbot County, Maryland Soil Conservation District. Part of our strategy is to automate the aggregation of the analytical output (site-specific conservation program performance data) to match watershed and county boundaries, so as to provide useful, rapid appraisal of cover crop success in protecting wate quality, while also maintaining farm data privacy as required in Section 1619 of the Farm Bill. By continuing the work conducted in collaboration among the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the United States Departme of Agriculture, the United States Geologic Survey, the National Fish and Wildlife Agency, and other partners, we hope to substantially improve th effectiveness of winter cover crop nutrient uptake in the Chesapeake Bay Region. 25 Ft. Collins, Colorado: Release of Object Modeling System (OMS) Version 3 ARS scientists and collaborators at Fort Collins, Colorado released OMS as a new framework for computer model development and broad application. OMS3 provides an open-source approach for object- and component-based modeling, and contains multi-threading capability for high performance computing on multi-CPU desktops (in particular for complex spatially- distributed models). OMS3 also supports Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) infrastructure for information technology and the use of existing model code. On-demand documentation of simulation projects, including model variables and parameter sets, has been implemented to produce indexed PDF technical documents. Simulation projects currently being implemented in OMS3 by ARS, NRCS, United States Geological Survey (USGS) and university partners will result in large cost reductions in terms of model development, deployment, maintenance, and ongoing application. 26 Enhancement of CEAP Prototype Watershed Model. The CEAP Prototype Watershed model developed under OMS 2.2 was: 1) enhanced with new Java components for erosion, nitrogen (N) cycling, and multi-flow direction routing; 2) restructured to run under OMS3; and 3) renamed as the AgES-W (AgroEcoSystem-Watershed) component-based model. AgES-W is currently being evaluated for N and sediment transport. Additional Java scientific components for water table depth and tile drainage were developed and ar undergoing verification before incorporation into AgES-W. AgES-W has a fully-distributed simulation capability to better quantify conservation impacts on water quality at field to watershed scales, incorporating the most effective approaches for CEAP regionalized model customization. 27 Columbia, Missouri: Dissipation of Sulfamethazine and Tetracycline in th Root Zone of Grass and Tree Species. Veterinary antibiotics are introduc into the environment through land application of livestock manures. The effect of three grass and one tree species commonly used in vegetative buffers on the degradation of two antibiotics typically used in livestoc production, sulfamethazine and tetracycline, was examined. Tetracycline dissipated rapidly under all vegetative treatments, indicating its relative instability in the soil environment. Sulfamethazine, however, w more persistent in soils and degraded most rapidly in the root zone of poplar saplings. The degradation rate was highly correlated to the microbial activity in the poplar root zone, indicating that this plant species supports a microbial community capable of rapidly breaking down sulfamethazine. Thus, use of poplar trees in vegetative buffers adjacent to fields receiving livestock manure applications could help alleviate t transport of antibiotics in the environment. 28 Herbicide Transport to Surface Runoff from a Claypan Soil: Scaling from Plots to Fields. A key challenge in evaluating the effect of various cropping systems on the transport of soil-applied herbicides has been th applicability of plot-scale results to the field scale. In this study, field-scale transport of atrazine and metolachlor were measured from two fields and the results compared to those predicted by an herbicide transport model developed at the plot-scale. The model developed from pl scale data reasonably estimated herbicide concentrations at the field scale, particularly for atrazine. Inclusion of temperature and soil moisture into the plot-scale model significantly improved prediction of metolachlor concentrations at the field scale. The study also confirmed that atrazine and metolachlor losses were higher when the herbicide was not incorporated. The study showed that the model developed using plot- scale data was generally applicable to predicting herbicide concentratio at the field scale.

    Impacts
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    Publications


      Progress 10/01/08 to 09/30/09

      Outputs
      Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) The objectives of this project are to support a national assessment of the environmental effects of USDA conservation programs by providing detailed findings for a few intensively studied watersheds and to improve the performance of models to be used in the assessment. Specific objectives are: 1) Develop and implement a data system to organize water, soil, management, and socio-economic watershed data; 2) Quantify water quality, water quantity, soil quality, and ecosystem effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale; 3) Validate models and quantify uncertainties of model prediction; 4) Develop and apply policy- planning tools to aid selection and placement of conservation practices to optimize profits, environmental quality, and conservation practice efficiency; and 5) Develop regional watershed models that quantify environmental outcomes of conservation practices. Approach (from AD-416) The general approach is the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data from 14 ARS Benchmark Watersheds and the testing and evaluation of models for the national assessment. Conservation practices are being applied on the 14 watersheds. Development and testing of watershed models will be associated with the 14 watersheds. The watersheds provide a cross-section of climate, soils, land use, topography, and crops across major production regions of the U.S. The research will be carefully coordinated. Six multi-location teams will guide the research, with a specific team being responsible for each of the five objectives and a sixth team providing quality assurance guidelines for the other teams. This multi-location project will be affiliated with the following location-specific projects: 1265-13610-026-00D, 1902-13000-010-00D, 3602- 12000-011-00D, 3602-12220-NEW-00D, 3604-13000-007-00D, 3622-12130-003-00D, 3625-12130-003-00D, 3625-13000-008-00D, 5358-21410-002-00D, 5368-13000- 006-00D, 5402-13660-006-00D, 6206-13610-005-00D, 6218-13000-009-00D, 6408- 13000-017-00D, 6408-13660-005-00D, 6602-13000-020-00D, 6602-13000-021-00D. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations The STEWARDS web site was made available to the public. At the current date, it is populated with data from 13 ARS benchmark watersheds, comprising more than 500 individual measurement sites of up to 35 years of records, totally well in excess of 10M geospatially and temporally documented data records and comprehensive metadata. Samples for soil quality assessment have now been collected from 14 of 15 ARS Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) benchmark watersheds. Texture, bulk density, water stable aggregation, microbial biomass carbon, acidity (pH), electrical conductivity (EC), total organic carbon and N, nitrate and ammonium N, phosphorus, and diethylene triamine pentaacetic acid (DTPA) extractable micronutrient levels measurements have been completed on samples from five of the sites and are being completed on four more. Sample processing has begun on those collected from the next 5 sites. Plans are being made to collect samples from the Upper Snake River site in autumn of 2009. The CEAP Ecology Working Group developed five guiding principles that will lead to hypothesis driven sampling protocols capable of documenting habitat and biological responses to conservation practices within wadeable streams. The guiding principles were recently published within the Journal of American Water Resources Association. Technology Transfer Number of Web Sites managed: 1

      Impacts
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      Publications


        Progress 10/01/07 to 09/30/08

        Outputs
        Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) The objectives of this project are to support a national assessment of the environmental effects of USDA conservation programs by providing detailed findings for a few intensively studied watersheds and to improve the performance of models to be used in the assessment. Specific objectives are: 1) Develop and implement a data system to organize water, soil, management, and socio-economic watershed data; 2) Quantify water quality, water quantity, soil quality, and ecosystem effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale; 3) Validate models and quantify uncertainties of model prediction; 4) Develop and apply policy- planning tools to aid selection and placement of conservation practices to optimize profits, environmental quality, and conservation practice efficiency; and 5) Develop regional watershed models that quantify environmental outcomes of conservation practices. Approach (from AD-416) The general approach is the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data from 14 ARS Benchmark Watersheds and the testing and evaluation of models for the national assessment. Conservation practices are being applied on the 14 watersheds. Development and testing of watershed models will be associated with the 14 watersheds. The watersheds provide a cross-section of climate, soils, land use, topography, and crops across major production regions of the U.S. The research will be carefully coordinated. Six multi-location teams will guide the research, with a specific team being responsible for each of the five objectives and a sixth team providing quality assurance guidelines for the other teams. This multi-location project will be affiliated with the following location-specific projects: 1265-13610-026-00D, 1902-13000-010-00D, 3602- 12000-011-00D, 3602-12220-NEW-00D, 3604-13000-007-00D, 3622-12130-003-00D, 3625-12130-003-00D, 3625-13000-008-00D, 5358-21410-002-00D, 5368-13000- 006-00D, 5402-13660-006-00D, 6206-13610-005-00D, 6218-13000-009-00D, 6408- 13000-017-00D, 6408-13660-005-00D, 6602-13000-020-00D, 6602-13000-021-00D. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations This multi-location project serves to coordinate among the multiple individual Conservation Effects Assessment Projects (CEAP). Specific progress is reported in the individual, location-based progress reports. An emphasis during FY08 was to contribute 23 scientific papers toward a special CEAP issue of the Journal of Soil & Water Conservation, to be published in Nov-Dec issue. Below is a brief summary of progress by objective. Performance is monitored through corresponding accountability in location project plans, and through ties from project milestones to individual scientist performance appraisals. Additionally, NRCS and other stakeholders attend the annual CEAP meeting to view results, interact, and provide input on their needs. Extensive interactions among scientists and stakeholders occur at local levels. Objective 1. As of September 2008, six watersheds were substantially represented in STEWARDS. Data incorporation was enhanced by error- checking to retain data accuracy during transfer among watershed and database personnel. STEWARDS database system training included a webinar for data and scientific staff and interaction during data preparation. Operational staff is in place. Suggestions identified during the beta phase were incorporated into the operational version of STEWARDS, which went online to the public 18 September. Objective 2. Assessments of water quality and conservation practices are continuing in all watersheds, and progress is according to schedule. Samples for soil quality assessments were done in several locations, and analyses are in progress. Rapid geomorphic assessments and sediment- source tracking are also continuing in some watersheds. Objective 3. SWAT has been calibrated and validated for 8 watersheds in 6 states, with work begun in 2 others. The landscape version of SWAT has begun testing on Little River (GA) and a linkage between SWAT and REMM has been done by Canadian collaborators. SWAT-APEX integration has been done for Leon (TX). AnnAGNPS has been calibrated and validated for 3 MS watersheds that have ephemeral gully and channel sources, as well as the Choptank (MD) and St. Joseph (IN) watersheds. Objective 4. We have adapted an indexing method from economics to evaluate water quality, in which all metrics (e.g., sediment, nitrates, nitrite) are weighted and aggregated. Rather than weighting by expert opinion or by statistical methods, we assign weights based on observed relationships in the data. The index calculator can be integrated into the multi-objective genetic algorithm. Objective 5. The Enhanced Object Modeling System (OMS) was delivered to NRCS. A prototype OMS-based regionalized watershed model was built and tested. Team 6. ARS Data Quality Assurance completed a second year in the NAPT proficiency testing program. Team 6 established an agreement to use an existing database for comparative analyses of different methods used in soil and water analysis. Technology Transfer Number of Web Sites managed: 1

        Impacts
        (N/A)

        Publications


          Progress 10/01/06 to 09/30/07

          Outputs
          Progress Report Objectives (from AD-416) The objectives of this project are to support a national assessment of the environmental effects of USDA conservation programs by providing detailed findings for a few intensively studied watersheds and to improve the performance of models to be used in the assessment. Specific objectives are: 1) Develop and implement a data system to organize water, soil, management, and socio-economic watershed data; 2) Quantify water quality, water quantity, soil quality, and ecosystem effects of conservation practices at the watershed scale; 3) Validate models and quantify uncertainties of model prediction; 4) Develop and apply policy- planning tools to aid selection and placement of conservation practices to optimize profits, environmental quality, and conservation practice efficiency; and 5) Develop regional watershed models that quantify environmental outcomes of conservation practices. Approach (from AD-416) The general approach is the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data from 14 ARS Benchmark Watersheds and the testing and evaluation of models for the national assessment. Conservation practices are being applied on the 14 watersheds. Development and testing of watershed models will be associated with the 14 watersheds. The watersheds provide a cross-section of climate, soils, land use, topography, and crops across major production regions of the U.S. The research will be carefully coordinated. Six multi-location teams will guide the research, with a specific team being responsible for each of the five objectives and a sixth team providing quality assurance guidelines for the other teams. This multi-location project will be affiliated with the following location-specific projects: 1265-13610-026-00D, 1902-13000-010-00D, 3602- 12000-011-00D, 3602-12220-NEW-00D, 3604-13000-007-00D, 3622-12130-003-00D, 3625-12130-003-00D, 3625-13000-008-00D, 5358-21410-002-00D, 5368-13000- 006-00D, 5402-13660-006-00D, 6206-13610-005-00D, 6218-13000-009-00D, 6408- 13000-017-00D, 6408-13660-005-00D, 6602-13000-020-00D, 6602-13000-021-00D. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations The function of this multi-location project is to coordinate among the multiple individual projects. Specific progress is reported in the individual, location-based progress reports. Below is a brief summary of progress by objective. Performance of participants is monitored through corresponding accountability in location project plans, and through ties from CRIS milestones to individual scientist performance appraisals. Additionally, NRCS and other stakeholders attend the annual CEAP meeting to view results, interact, and provide input on their needs. Extensive interactions among scientists and stakeholders occur at local levels. Objective 1. On-site STEWARDS database system training was conducted at 12 CEAP watersheds. STEWARDS was released to the CEAP watershed teams for beta testing. Four watersheds have partially populated the database, with uploading scheduled for November 2007 and March 2008. Server clusters at Ames IA and Ft Collins CO house STEWARDS. Staffing needs are being evaluated. Objective 2. Preliminary assessments of water quality and conservation practices have been done on several watersheds. Channel-forming processes and sediment sources are being assessed across locations. Objective 3. SWAT has been calibrated and validated for Leon (TX), Little River (GA), Town Brook & Mahantango (PA), Cedar Creek (OH), South Fork & Walnut Creek (IA). Work has begun in Ft. Cobb (OK) and Goodwater Creek (MO). The landscape version of SWAT has begun testing on Little River (GA) and a linkage between SWAT and REMM has been done by Canadian collaborators. SWAT-APEX integration has been done for Leon (TX). AnnAGNPS has been calibrated and validated for Beasley, Goodwin & Yalobusha (MS). Objective 4. A genetic algorithm now being tested optimizes the trade- offs among the three sub-objectives. A model of farm-level profit maximization (#1), drives a watershed model in SWAT, which output feeds to a water quality index (#2), optimization of environmental quality. Cost/change in nonpoint source agricultural pollution (#3) combines information from the farm-level economic model, SWAT, and the water quality index. Objective 5. Version 2.1 of OMS was released with enhanced user interface, distributed models support, and project management. Science components in key process areas were extracted from legacy models, and structural linkages to the CONCEPTS and REMM models were investigated. New empirical scaling relationships were explored. Team 6. ARS Data Quality Assurance completed one full year in a proficiency testing program and renewed enrollment. Recently, standard samples from a common lot containing N and P (nutrients) were obtained. Each laboratory will conduct 20 simple and 20 spiked sample analyses to quantify accuracy within and between laboratories. Accomplishments Watershed data system released to CEAP research team. Comprehensive, long-term data from diverse watersheds are needed for hydrologic and ecosystem analysis and model development, calibration and validation. To support the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) in assessing environmental impacts of USDA conservation programs and practices, researchers and staff from multiple ARS locations (El Reno, OK; Columbia, MO; Beltsville, MD; Ames, IA; Fort Collins, CP) developed a web-based data system: Sustaining the Earth�s Watersheds, Agricultural Research Data System (STEWARDS). The data system organizes and documents soil, water, climate, land-management, and socio-economic data from multiple agricultural watersheds across the US and allows users to search, download, visualize, and explore data. Now being beta-tested by the CEAP research team, when released to the public, STEWARDS will facilitate 1) researchers in obtaining ARS� long-term data for hydrological studies; 2) modelers in retrieving measured data for model calibration and validation; and 3) watershed managers and a wide array of partners and stakeholders in accessing long term data to support conservation planning and assessment. Anticipated benefits include preservation of data, increased data use, and facilitation of hydrological research within and across watersheds with diverse collaborators. (NP 201, Component 1: Agricultural Watershed Management) Extraction of Legacy Code for Regionalized Prototype Watershed Model Development. Necessary scientific components for the regionalized prototype watershed model in key process areas such as water balance, nutrient cycling, soil erosion, and plant growth and development were extracted from legacy models such as RZWQM, WEPP, PRMS, and the European watershed model J2000. Components were restructured into Fortran 95 and further modularized in order to improve compatibility with the Object Modeling System (OMS). Rigorous evaluation of specific stand-alone components (e.g., soil erosion) was also initiated, with the end objective incorporation into the OMS module library repository. In addition, new structural linkages to components of the CONCEPTS and REMM models were investigated. Linkage to the CONCEPTS and REMM models will enhance the ability of the prototype regionalized watershed model to improve simulations of the dynamics of water and sediment transport in channels and riparian areas, respectively. [Contributes to Problem Area #1, Effectiveness of Conservation Practices, Product #5 and Problem Area #3, Drainage Water Management Systems, Product #4 of the new NP 201 Action Plan (FY2006-2010)] Technology Transfer Number of Web Sites managed: 1 Number of Non-Peer Reviewed Presentations and Proceedings: 2

          Impacts
          (N/A)

          Publications