Throughout many watersheds in the Corn Belt, entire farms and fields are managed uniformly to simplify farming operations. However, land conditions such as soil type and topography vary substantially at smaller scales. This in-field variability influences the need for and effectiveness of conservation best management practices for erosion control. In order to reduce soil loss and improve water quality, it is imperative that conservation practices be applied to these critical resource areas on the landscape.
Defining critical areas at the field-scale, where conservation decisions are made, can be a challenge. However, new technologies such as high-resolution elevation data and advanced geographic information systems can offer service providers effective decision tools. Today, targeting critical resource areas is possible both at a watershed scale, and at the smaller farm and field scale.
This weekend I will be traveling to North Carolina for the 70th Annual SWCS Conference – Putting Science into Practice. I will be demonstrating precision solutions for conservation including new SoilCalculator outputs that allow growers to easily evaluate management alternatives and their economic impact.
Tuesday afternoon I will be presenting on outreach efforts in the South Fork watershed. The South Fork watershed is seriously impacted by sediment loss. Several studies have suggested that ephemeral erosion is a major source of this sediment. In some areas, researchers think these gullies contribute as much as half or more of the soil getting into the river.
The project integrates research, education, and extension to reduce the water quality impacts of ephemeral gully erosion. The goal of the outreach program is to use precision conservation to reduce erosion in the South Fork. Project partners are ISU and USDA-ARS.
If you are attending the conference, please look me up!