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Western Lake Erie Basin Special Study - October 2017

Conservation Practice Adoption on Cultivated Cropland Acres: Effects on Instream Nutrient and Sediment Dynamics and Delivery in Western Lake Erie Basin, 2003-06 and 2012

Western Lake Erie Basin cover

On October 5, 2017, NRCS released the CEAP-Cropland report on the effects recently adopted conservation practices on cropland have on instream nutrient and sediment dynamics and delivery in Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). This report is a companion report to the first WLEB special study report “Effects of Conservation Practice Adoption on Cultivated Cropland Acres in Western Lake Erie Basin, 2003-06 and 2012,” released in March 2016. That first report, using farmer survey and other data collected in 2003-06 and in 2012, focuses on edge-of-field losses of sediment and nutrients from cropland. This companion report uses data from the same two survey periods but focuses on sediment and nutrients being delivered to stream and rivers in WLEB and to Lake Erie.

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Major findings from the Western Lake Erie Basin special study are listed below and summarized in the executive summary. More specific details on effects of practices are in the full report and the executive summary.

Relative to if no agricultural conservation practices were in place, the voluntary conservation practices in use by farmers in the basin in 2012:

  • Reduce phosphorus and nitrogen lost from cultivated cropland fields by 61 and 26 percent, respectively;
  • Reduce phosphorus and nitrogen deposition into ditches, channels, streams, and rivers of the lake’s basin by 72 and 37 percent, respectively; and
  • Reduce phosphorus and nitrogen entering Lake Erie by 41 and 17 percent, respectively.


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