The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA, formerly CSREES) Competitive Grant Watershed Studies are evaluating the effects of watershed conservation practices on water quality, with a focus on understanding how the suite of conservation practices, the timing of these activities, and the spatial distribution of these practices throughout a watershed influence their effectiveness. These studies include two additional components that 1) evaluate social and economic factors influencing implementation and maintenance of practices and 2) conduct outreach education to transfer knowledge from this research to farmers, ranchers, community leaders, and other stakeholders.
As part of the CEAP Watershed Assessments, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and NRCS jointly funded 13 projects to evaluate the effects of cropland and pastureland conservation practices on spatial and temporal trends in water quality at the watershed scale. The new book, fact sheets, and webcast are available, August 2012.
The November/December 2010 issue (Volume 65, Number 6) of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, published by the Soil and Water Conservation Society, is a special issue dedicated to CEAP competitive grant watershed projects. Features include an overview of the original 13 National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)-sponsored watershed assessment studies by Dr. Deanna Osmond of North Carolina State University, principal investigator for one of the two synthesis studies on the NIFA watershed studies. The issue also includes 12 research papers detailing findings from individual NIFA watershed assessment studies.
Two grants have been awarded to complete a synthesis of the 13 watershed projects previously funded through the CEAP competitive grants program. The goal of this synthesis is to build a knowledge base that can be used to evaluate impacts of conservation practices and programs on water resources, improve the management of agricultural landscapes to achieve environmental goals, and inform policy decisions. This is a joint effort between NIFA and NRCS.