An understanding how environmental processes and agricultural practices interact to determine the transport and fate of agricultural chemicals in the environment is essential for effectively addressing the widespread degradation of surface and ground waters from past, present, and future agricultural activities. While considerable research has been conducted at field or smaller scales, the holistic understanding of processes at the watershed scale, encompassing multiple environmental compartments, is generally lacking.
To improve understanding in this critical area, scientists at the US Geological Survey (USGS) have conducted studies in five diverse agricultural settings across the country as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program. The holistic study design, which was employed at each setting, focused on the catchments of small streams and included all of the important environmental compartments – surface water, ground water, the unsaturated zone, the streambed, and the atmosphere. A detailed description of this whole-system study approach is published in the May-June issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality and serves as an introduction to a group of thirteen companion papers that compare and contrast the results for the specific environmental compartments from the five settings in included the study.
Results from the companion papers show the value of this holistic study design. Conclusions drawn from the interpretations of data in each of the environmental compartments are corroborated and enhanced by information from neighboring compartments.
Paul Capel, who lead the study, stated “Because of the holistic approach used, these investigations provide valuable information that can help optimize site-specific changes in agricultural practices to reduce the concentrations of nutrients, pesticides, and pesticide degradates in surface and ground waters and mitigate the impacts of agriculture on the environment.”
At each of the five agricultural settings, a wide variety of field data—hydrologic, mineralogical, chemical, dissolved gas, and isotopic—were collected during 2003 and 2004. In addition, several numerical models were employed to help interpret and simulate water and chemical transport and transformation processes within and between environmental compartments.
This work shows the value of a thorough understanding of the hydrologic system and water budget for an agricultural setting when seeking to understand water-quality issues. It also demonstrates that modifications, such as irrigation and engineered drainage, can profoundly alter the magnitudes and rates at which chemicals are transported through the environment. These rates, in turn, control the degree to which contaminants are diluted or chemically transformed prior to reaching receiving water bodies.
To further increase the understanding of how environmental processes and agricultural practices interact, the USGS is currently conducting studies in two additional agricultural settings using the same holistic approach.
The full article is available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary. View the abstract at http://jeq.scijournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/37/3/983.
The Journal of Environmental Quality, http://jeq.scijournals.org is a peer-reviewed, international journal of environmental quality in natural and agricultural ecosystems published six times a year by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). The Journal of Environmental Quality covers various aspects of anthropogenic impacts on the environment, including terrestrial, atmospheric, and aquatic systems.
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) www.agronomy.org, is a scientific society helping its 8,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of member services.
Sara Uttech | newswise
Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Information Technology
18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation