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Assessment of Phosphorus on Retired Agricultural Lands in Minnesota –USGS cooperated with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and worked collaboratively with the Hawk Creek Watershed Project to examine phosphorus trends in the West Fork Beaver Creek Basin in Renville County, which has the largest number of “Reinvest in Minnesota” (RIM) land retirement contracts in the State. Among all conservation easement programs, a total of 24,218 acres of agricultural land were retired throughout Renville County, and 2,718 acres were retired in the West Fork Beaver Creek Basin from 1987 through 2012. Findings showed a significant downward trend in flow-weighted mean total-phosphorus concentrations from 1999 through 2008, which most likely reflected annual land retirement. Flow-weighted total-phosphorus concentrations increased substantially in 2009, which may be due to a number of factors, including industrial discharges, increases in drain tile installation, changes in land use including decreases in agricultural land retirement after 2008, increases in erosion, or increases in phosphorus applications to fields. Inclusion of land-retirement effects in agency planning along with other factors adds perspective to the broader picture of interdependent systems and allows agencies to make informed decisions on the benefits of perpetual easements compared to limited duration easements. (Report)
Nutrients and Pesticides Assessed in a Citrus-Production Region of Florida –USGS and the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and the Southwest Florida Water Management District described nutrients and pesticides in groundwater underlying an important citrus-production region from 1999-2010. The results of quarterly sampling span changes in agrichemical usage and the onset of citrus greening disease (in 2005), which continues to be a serious threat to Florida and national citrus crops. The network has provided early warning of chemicals prone to leaching into underlying aquifers, documented temporal changes in concentrations, and assisted state agencies in the protection of groundwater quality and drinking-water supplies. (Report 1; Report 2)
Water quality improvements and best-management practices in agricultural watersheds in Wisconsin –USGS, in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, assessed the effectiveness of watershed-management practices, including fencing, streambank protection, barnyard-runoff control, and other practices-for controlling nonpoint-source contamination for the largely agricultural and wooded Eagle Creek and Joos Valley Creek Watersheds. Water quality improvements are attributed to the implemented management practices and to a reduction in the number of cattle in the watersheds.
Sediment and nutrients in agricultural runoff in southern Wisconsin –A cooperative study between USGS, the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison Discovery Farms Program, and the UW-Platteville Pioneer Farm program was developed to identify typical ranges and magnitudes, temporal distributions, and principal factors affecting concentrations and yields of sediment, nutrients, and other selected constituents in runoff from agricultural fields. Analysis of runoff, concentration, and yield data on annual, monthly, and seasonal time scales, when combined with precipitation, soil moisture, soil temperature, and on-farm field-activity information, revealed conditions in which runoff was most likely. The analysis also revealed the effects that field conditions and the timing of field-management activities-most notably, manure applications and tillage--had on the quantity and quality of surface runoff from agricultural fields.
Applications of treated municipal wastewater and other sources of nitrate in groundwater beneath Leon and Wakulla Counties, Florida –USGS, in cooperation with the City of Tallahassee, studied the sources and transport of nitrate-nitrogen in groundwater associated with agricultural sprayfields (related to disposal of treated municipal wastewater), along with other sources of nitrate (including atmospheric deposition, onsite sewage disposal systems, disposal of biosolids by land spreading, creeks discharging into sinks, domestic fertilizer application, and livestock wastes).(Full report)