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Targeting Practices – Lessons from a Pecatonica River

watershed in the Driftless Area

Steve Richter, The Nature Conservancy,
Laura Ward Good, Soil Science, University of Wisconsin
Faith Fitzpatrick, US Geological Survey
CLEAN RIVERS, CLEAN LAKE CONFERENCE on April 30, 2015

Project Overview
Steve Richter, The Nature Conservancy

• Focused efforts on responsive watershed
• Identified high phosphorus and sediment
loss areas in watershed
• Identified acceptable alternative practices
• Farmers made changes
• Phosphorus loads reduced

Pilot for WBI Recommendations
WI Buffer Initiative policy:
• Focus on watersheds
likely to respond
• Identify and treat areas
within watersheds with
highest sediment and
phosphorus
contributions

Paired watershed test

Reference
In-stream gages to
monitor flow, sediment,
phosphorus

Treatment

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Stream monitoring, sediment and P budgeting
Partners: US Geological Survey, University Wisconsin, WI Department of
Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy
Additional funding: USDA-NIFA

Inventory and Assessment
Partners: Dane County Land Conservation Department and Univ. of Wisconsin
Additional funding: The Nature Conservancy
M. Godfrey

Implementation
Partners: Producers, Dane County Land Conservation
Department, NRCS, UW-Extension
Practice funding: NRCS, The Nature Conservancy

Inventory
Baseline Inventories for erosion
and runoff P loss assessment
• Interview farmers to find out
crops and field management
• Soil sample fields (routine analysis
for crops)
• Calculate soil loss and P Index in
SnapPlus
More than 90% of agricultural land in watershed inventoried

Implementation
Land conservation staff KEY

10 farm operations selected
for project focus based on
total P delivery risks
8 worked with project from
start

Land Management Practices
Cropland practices:
• No-till, reduced till
• Forage crops after silage
• Rotation change
• Nutrient management
planning
Pasture practices:
• Pasture reseeding
• Management (with fencing)
These cows have been fenced from
stream bank

“Hard” Practices

Barnyard runoff,
Stream crossings,
Small water control
projects

Stream bank restoration

Farmer Experience

Mark Keller operates a 300 cow dairy
along with his brother Tim. Mark took
ownership of the nutrient management
plan on their farm and learned the
SnapPlus program. He used the
program to test out various cropping
scenarios that reduced erosion and
runoff phosphorus losses and that
would fit into their current farming
operation, including less tillage and
adding winter rye to the rotation in
some fields.

Challenges of inventory and tracking
• Many small fields (average field size
<5 acres)
• Labor intensive to keep crops and
management records up-to-date
• Farm ownership and field
boundaries and field names
changed

Challenges of implementation
• Short time-frame for sign-up for federal
cost-share
• Two of ten farms in initial target group
reluctant to participate
• “Learning curve” for all partners
• Local agricultural consultants not brought
in as initial partners
• Shifts in land operators
• Verification of implementation timeconsuming (e.g. field checks for no-till
cost share)

Focused implementation worked!
Farmers responded

Water quality improved

Reduction in stream phosphorus loads in
2013-2014 storms and snowmelt

37%

Becky Carvin at USGS stream water
sampling station

Lessons for Water Quality Projects

• Involve all land managers and farm
consultants at the start
• Periodically reassess watershed for new
high delivery risks
• Provide adequate assistance and time
for farmers to make decisions about
their management changes

Project Implementation Costs
Inventory soil samples (routine, 5 ac/sample): $20,000
County staff, mileage overhead: $50,000/year
Cost-share (NRCS, Nature Conservancy, LWRM)
Field practices: $120,000
No-till/reduced till
Nutrient management planning
Constructed practices $570,000
Barnyard runoff, fencing, stream crossings
Grade stabilization structures
Stream bank stabilization and grassed waterways

$

Outreach- sharing results
Media: WI State Journal, WI Agriculturalist, Waupaca Wisconsin
State Farmer, Conservation magazine
Presentations: WI DNR webinar, NRCS staff, WDATCP staff, County
Conservation staff, WWTP workshops
Farmer Lunches and Field Trips: NRCS, TNC, WDNR, EPA
TNC Communications: WI newsletter, national magazine, e-news,
web, videos, social media, fact sheet
Partner Communications: UW CALS Grow magazine, WDNR
Natural Resource magazine and peer-reviewed journals

Our Fact Sheet

In the News!

Our Web Page:
nature.org/pecatonica-wi

Tracking Sediment and P Sources
Crop Lands

Cattle Access

Gullies and Stream
Bank Erosion

Upland Pastures

Barnyards & Exercise Lots
Laura Ward Good
Soil Science, UW-Madison

Evaluating Runoff Phosphorus Risk on Croplands
and Pastures: Wisconsin P Index

P Index: Estimates average yearly P
delivery to stream (lb/acre)

Photo: M Godfrey

WI P Index Basics
Field

Runoff
Erosion

P lb/acre year
Stream

Estimates Transport:
Erosion
Runoff
Estimates P concentrations in
eroding sediment and
dissolved in runoff based on
these Sources:
Soil P
Manure P
Fertilizer P

For equations: wpindex.soils.wisc.edu
Good, L.W., P. Vadas, J.C. Panuska, C.A. Bonilla, W.E. Jokela, 2012. Testing the Wisconsin
Phosphorus Index with Year-Round Field-Scale Runoff Monitoring. Journal of Environmental
Quality 41:1730-1740.

Practices to reduce P losses
Reduce transport:
Erosion
Runoff

Reduce P sources:
Soil P
Manure
Fertilizer

No-till, reduced till
Forage crops after silage
Rotation change
Pasture management
Nutrient management planning

Nutrient management planning

Example High P Loss Field
Field in continuous corn silage with excessively high soil test P (200 ppm)

Reduce Transport

Spring tillage
Winter manure
Commercial P fertilizer

No till
Same manure and
fertilizer

Reduce Source

Same tillage
No manure,
Minimal P fertilizer

No one-size-fits-all solutions

Participating Farms Reduced Runoff P Loss and
Erosion
Estimated average annual runoff P and erosion reductions in
Pleasant Valley from cost-shared managements:
Implementation period (2010-2013) compared to baseline (2006-2009)

Acres
No-till/reduced
till/residue
management
Pasture systems
(stream crossings,
fencing, seeding)

P Index
Erosion
reduction reduction
(lb/yr)
(ton/yr)

1840

3300

2000

315

1100

100

Participating farms cut
runoff P losses in half
Estimated average annual runoff P losses for
participating farms, baseline (2006-2009) and 2013

$ per pound P and ton soil erosion reduction
Cropland management practice cost-share
expenditures per unit reduction in estimated
average P delivery and erosion for three farms

Orig. Avg.
P Index
Dairy farm
Beef farm
Cash grain

6.5
4.1
3.4

P Reduction
$ per lb
5
7
19

Erosion
Reduction
$ per ton
8
30
32

Does not include costs of technical assistance
and verification

Watershed tracking finding:
Runoff P losses increased on other farms
Largest increases were from grassland
conversion to cropland

Estimated P
delivery from all
agricultural
acres in
watershed was
reduced 12%

Challenge: Quantifying Results of
Constructed Practices
• Small water control structures
• Barnyards/feeding areas
Reductions: 574 lb P/acre/year (BARNY)

• Stream bank protection

Photos: Curt Diehl, Dane LCD

Monitoring: Annual Sediment and Phosphorus
Loads in Treatment Watershed
Sediment in ton/acre

Phosphorus in lb/acre

Weather-caused variability in
annual loads obvious in treatment
watershed

Annual Sediment and Phosphorus Loads
in Treatment and Reference Watersheds
Reference watershed had
weather-caused variability
similar to the Treatment
watershed.
Phosphorus in lb/acre

Sediment in ton/acre

Monitoring: Paired Watershed Analysis
Post-implementation: 2013 – 2014: 37% reduction in runoff P loads

R. Carvin, USGS

Summary
WI P Index inventory and tracking allowed
project to:
• Identify croplands and pastures with higher
P runoff contributions to stream
• Identify alternative managements
• Estimate runoff P reductions with changing
practices
Paired watershed monitoring showed that
changing practices reduced P loads

Influence of Channel Processes
on Suspended Sediment and
Phosphorus Loads:
Pleasant Valley Experience
Faith A. Fitzpatrick (USGS WI Water Science Center)
and
Jasmeet Lamba (Pennsylvania State University)
4/30/15 SweetWater Conference, Milwaukee, WI

Targeting Conservation
Sediment Budgets and Sediment Fingerprinting
Stream Phosphorus Reductions
• Linking upland/field delivery to downstream water
quality
• Understanding sources, delivery, storage, timing,
and lag times
• Decision-making concerning targeted conservation
practices for uplands and channels
• Tools for understanding ecology-based stream
impairments and TMDLs
• Adopted traditional sediment techniques for
phosphorus

Fields
Barnyards
Gullies

Channels

Sources and Sinks of Sediment and P

Soft sediment

Rapid Channel Assessments
Sediment Fingerprinting
Rapid channel
assessment
Outlet USGS
gaging station

In-situ suspended

*

sediment sampler
DNR biology

(Background of Field P Index)

Channel Sediment Sources and Sinks Calculator
BANK (SOURCE)

L

R
H

SILTATION/SOFT SEDIMENT (SINK)

L

V=LxHxR
L = Length of eroding bank (m)
H = Height of eroding bank (m)
R = bank retreat rate (cm/yr)*
V = volume of eroded sediment (m^3/yr)

T

W

V=LxWxT
L = Length of soft sediment (m)
W = Width of soft sediment (m)
T = thickness (m)
V = volume of stored soft sediment (m^3)

Bank Erosion/Lateral Recession Rates
Bank retreat rate this study = 4.1 cm/yr based on Fever River/Pioneer Farm 2004-07
WI NRCS technical document (2003)

Lateral Recession
Rate ft/yr
(cm/yr)

Category

Description

0.01-0.05
(0.3 - 1.5)

Slight

Some bare bank but active erosion not readily apparent. Some rills
but no vegetative overhang. No exposed tree roots.

0.06-0.2
(1.8 – 6.0)

Moderate

Bank is predominantly bare with some rills and vegetative
overhang. Some exposed tree roots but no slumps or slips.

0.3-0.5
(7.0 – 15)

Severe

0.5+
(>15)

Very
severe

Bank is bare with rills and severe vegetative overhang. Many exposed
tree roots and some fallen trees and slumps or slips. Some changes in
cultural features such as fence corners missing and realignment of
roads or trails. Channel cross section becomes U-shaped as opposed to
V-shaped.
Bank is bare with gullies and severe vegetative overhang. Many
fallen trees, drains and culverts eroding out and changes in cultural
features as above. Massive slips or washouts common. Channel
cross section is U-shaped and stream course may be meandering.

Pre-Implementation Watershed Sediment Budget
Pleasant Valley Outlet/USGS Gage
UPLAND SOIL EROSION
0.8 tons/ac/y
ANNUAL WATERSHED
BANK EROSION
0.06 tons/ac/y

EXPORT (GAGE)
0.14 tons/ac/y

FINE SEDIMENT
SAVINGS AND LOAN
1.2 tons/ac
(2006 -10 data, various sources)

Annual Loading at Pleasant Valley
Outlet/USGS Gage
Sediment in ton/acre

Phosphorus in lb/acre

Average est. bank erosion from
2009 geomorphic
assessment/sediment budget

Suspended Sediment Loads
Fingerprinting/Source Apportionment
Outlet/USGS Gage
Streambanks
Stream
Banks
Woodlands
Woolands

Relative Contribution (%)

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Average = 30% eroding banks, 70% upland agriculture
2011
2012
2010

Agriculture

In situ suspended
sediment samplers
photo: Curt Diehl

Lamba, et al., 2014

44

Particulate P in Suspended Sediment
Fingerprinting/Source Apportionment

Particulate Bound P Load (lbs)

600
500

400

Average = 30% eroding banks, 70% upland agriculture
2011
2012
2010
Streambanks
Woodlands
Agriculture

300
200
100
0

In situ suspended
sediment samplers
photo: Curt Diehl

45

Bank Erosion
Pre-Implementation Sediment Budget (2009)

Grazed/feeding areas

Barnyard/night pasture

Kittleson Valley bank erosion photo: Curt Diehl

Barnyard/Night Pasture
2009 Pre-implementation

2012 Post-implementation

P Savings from
channel = ~16 lb/yr

Barnyard: Clean Water Diversion, Heavy Use
Area Protection, Vegetative Treatment
Strips, Fence, Roof Runoff, Milkhouse Waste
Treatment System, Animal Trail and Walkway

2009 Phosphorus Concentrations
Eroding Bank and Fine Sediment
Barnyard/night pasture

(no fine sediment
deposition in the other
two grazed feeding
areas)

Grazed woods/feeding area

2009 Pre-implementation

2012 Post-implementation

P Savings = ~25 lb/yr

[Stream bank protection from overgrazing, trampling; Feeding area moved]

Phosphorus in Fine Sediment Deposition
Pre-Implementation (2009)
Storage
TP in Fine Sediment Deposition
(lbs/mi)

Concentration
1400
1200
1000
800

600
400
200
0
0

10
20
Drainage area (square miles)

30

Pleasant Valley Delisted

[Gaged reach had boxelder removed and bank toe
riprapping in 2006]
Trout photo credit: Curt Diehl

Targeted Conservation and Channel Processes
Pleasant Valley Experience
• A sediment budget and fingerprinting approach were
helpful for estimating channel sources and sinks of fine
grained sediment and P.

• On average, agriculture makes up the majority of the
source of suspended sediment at the outlet (~70%).
• Relative contributions of P from bank erosion are
season/flow dependent.
• There is about 8 yrs worth of annual export of
suspended sediment stored in soft sediment deposition.
• Targeted rehabilitation work in channels is important –
need information on riparian land use history and
longitudinal continuum of legacy erosion/deposition.
Coon Creek Restoration,
October 2010

Acknowledgments
Questions?
STUDY PARTNERS, ASSISTANCE, AND FUNDING

Dane County, Land Conservation Division
Iowa County Land Conservation Department
Green County Land Conservation Department
University of Wisconsin-Madison
University of Wisconsin-Extension
U.S. Geological Survey
USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection
The Nature Conservancy
Landowners and Farmers
Monsanto Corporation
McKnight Foundation
USGS cooperative program
Research funding provided by USDA-NIFA award #2009-51130-06049

Contact: Faith Fitzpatrick fafitzpa@usgs.gov, 608-821-3818