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Upper Mississippi River Basin

Assessment of the Effects of Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

Assessment of the Effects of Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland in the Upper Mississippi River Basin cover image

On June 16, 2010, agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the release of the draft CEAP-Cropland report on the effects of conservation practices on cropland in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The final report, updated to reflect changes in the modeling protocols and to include the southernmost subbasin in the region, was posted on August 30, 2012; differences between the draft and final reports are minimal.

This report is one in a series of regional reports that continues the tradition within USDA of assessing the status, condition, and trends of natural resources to determine how to improve conservation programs to best meet the Nation's needs. These reports use a sampling and modeling approach to quantify the environmental benefits that farmers and conservation programs are currently providing to society, and explore prospects for attaining additional benefits with further conservation treatment.

Computer modeling simulations indicate that conservation practice use in the Upper Mississippi River Basin has made good progress toward reducing sediment, nutrient, and pesticide losses from farm fields and subsequent loadings in rivers and streams in the region. However, significant conservation treatment is still needed to reduce nonpoint agricultural sources of pollution. The most pervasive conservation concern in the region is the loss of nutrients from farm fields, especially nitrogen through leaching. Comprehensive conservation planning and implementation that includes combinations of erosion-control and nutrient management practices are essential. Targeting the cropland that is most vulnerable to sediment or nutrient loss or that has the least conservation treatment in place will provide the greatest return on the conservation investment. More specific details on effects of practices are discussed in the full report and in the summary documents.

 These documents require Adobe Acrobat

  • Final report (PDF; 5.3 MB). Detailed description of study methodology and findings. 187 pages. For citation purposes, please cite the final report. Comments on the report may be addressed to lee.norfleet@wdc.usda.gov.
  • Summary of Findings (PDF; 2.2 MB). An 11-page overview of report methodology and findings.
  • Findings at a glance. A two-page summary (PDF; 0.2 MB) overview of study results.

Technical information on the methodology for CEAP Cropland studies, including the one on the Upper Mississippi River Basin, and documentation reports on the modeling methodology, models and databases, is available.

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