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A Decade of USDA ARS Watershed-Scale Research

JSWC 10 Year Special cover image

The latest issue (Sept./Oct. 2014) of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (JSWC) includes one special feature article and four research articles highlighting 10 years of work under the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) CEAP Benchmark Watershed Assessment Studies. The special CEAP section of this journal issue contains articles on multi-watershed research syntheses on several topics.

Several key insights for conservation are discussed in the research articles including: sources of fine sediment in the landscape, soil quality assessments, impact of weather and climate, and new conservation approaches such as targeting and watershed scale assessment methods. The Feature article discusses in detail how the work in the ARS CEAP Watersheds has been directly applied to inform model development for the National Cropland Assessment of CEAP, a joint component of CEAP.

Begun in 2003 and 2004, the ARS CEAP Benchmark Watershed Assessment Studies include 14 locations across the U.S. ranging from Idaho to the Maryland. Studies conducted are long term (some more than 30 years) and are mostly in non-irrigated cropland areas with the exception of one on irrigated croplands in Idaho. In partnership with NRCS, ARS scientists and partners examine the effects of conservation practices at both field scales and at the scale of a watershed, documenting changes in water quality condition and metrics. Several of the studies are located in watersheds where NRCS has implemented water quality Conservation Initiatives. The projects are developing a better understanding of processes on the land and in a watershed and relating them to conservation performance.

Feature Article:

Special Research Section: A Decade of USDA Agricultural Research Service Watershed-Scale Research to Assess Conservation Effects