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Accession Number PB2011-113744
Title Assessment of the Effects of Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland in the Chesapeake Bay Region.
Publication Date Feb 2011
Media Count 160p
Personal Author N/A
Abstract The voluntary, incentives-based conservation approach is working. Farmers have made good progress in reducing sediment, nutrient, and pesticide losses from farm fields through conservation practice adoption throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Most cropland acres have structural or management practicesor bothin place to control erosion. Nearly half the cropland acres are protected by one or more structural practices, such as buffers or terraces. Reduced tillage is used in some form on 88 percent of the cropland. Adoption of conservation practices has reduced edge-of-field sediment loss by 55 percent, losses of nitrogen with surface runoff by 42 percent, losses of nitrogen in subsurface flows by 31 percent, and losses of phosphorus (sediment attached and soluble) by 41 percent. Opportunities exist to further reduce sediment and nutrient losses from cropland. The assessment of conservation treatment needs presented in this study identifies opportunities to contribute to improved water quality in the Bay. The study found that 19 percent of cropped acres (810,000 acres) have a high level of need for additional conservation treatment. Acres with a high level of need consist of the most vulnerable acres with the least conservation treatment and the highest losses of sediment and nutrients. Model simulations show that adoption of additional conservation practices on these 810,000 acres would, compared to the 200306 baseline, further reduce edge-of-field sediment loss by 37 percent, losses of nitrogen with surface runoff by 27 percent, losses of nitrogen in subsurface flows by 20 percent, and losses of phosphorus (sediment-attached and soluble) by 25 percent. Targeting enhances effectiveness and efficiency. Targeting critical acres significantly improves the effectiveness of conservation practice implementation. Use of additional conservation practices on acres that have a high need for additional treatmentacres most prone to runoff or leaching and with low levels of conservation practice usecan reduce sediment and nutrient per-acre losses by over twice as much as treatment of acres with a low or moderate conservation treatment need. Comprehensive conservation planning and implementation is essential. The most critical conservation concern related to cropland in the region is the need to reduce nutrient losses from farm fields, especially nitrogen in subsurface flows. Suites of practices that include soil erosion control and comprehensive nutrient managementappropriate rate, form, timing, and method of applicationare required to simultaneously address soil erosion, nutrient losses in runoff, and loss of nitrogen through leaching.
Keywords Assessment
Chesapeake Bay Region
Cultivated cropland
Farm crop
Land use
Nutrient management
Resource conservation
Soil conservation
Soil erosion
Water quality

Source Agency Natural Resources Conservation Service
NTIS Subject Category 98B - Agricultural Economics
48B - Natural Resource Management
Corporate Author Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC. Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Document Type Technical report
Title Note N/A
NTIS Issue Number 1124
Contract Number N/A

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