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Why Are We Here? Tom Christensen Regional Conservationist USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Managing Water, Harvesting Results America’s Ag Water.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Are We Here? Tom Christensen Regional Conservationist USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Managing Water, Harvesting Results America’s Ag Water."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Are We Here? Tom Christensen Regional Conservationist USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Managing Water, Harvesting Results America’s Ag Water Management Summit October 11 – 12, 2011

2 Why Are We Here? Increase voluntary adoption of drainage water management as part of a conservation system 2 How? Through a better understanding of: Lessons learned Current situation Barriers Limitations Opportunities Assessments Needed

3 Goals of Summit Understand drainage water management and its role in a conservation systems approach Provide exposure to current and evolving technologies and innovations Identify policy and programmatic barriers and opportunities Foster commitment to action among partners, including outreach and education 3

4 Benefits of Conservation Programs and Practices Partnership efforts have yielded great benefits for SWAPA+E+H.  Soil, Water, Air, Plants, Animals + Energy + Humans Conservation tillage has experienced phenomenal growth. Considerable progress in reducing soil erosion and sedimentation. Wetland gains outnumber losses on agricultural lands. Significant gains in wildlife habitat. 4

5 Sound science must be the foundation for conservation. Conservation works and can improve the economic bottom line. Watershed and site-specific conservation planning are needed to aid decision-making. Targeting critical areas improves effectiveness and efficiency. Technical assistance is critical to planning, implementation, and follow-up. Effective adaptive management, after implementation, is vital. Leadership and partnerships must be effective and sustainable. What Have We Learned? 5

6 Measuring the Environmental Benefits of Conservation: Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) CEAP is a multi-agency effort to quantify the environmental effects of conservation practices and programs and develop the science base for managing the agricultural landscape for environmental quality. Project findings are used to guide USDA conservation policy and program development and help conservationists, farmers and ranchers make more informed conservation decisions. 6

7 Regions for CEAP Cropland Regional Assessments 7

8 River Basin CEAP Reports Release Schedule* Upper Mississippi: Released in June 2010 Chesapeake Bay: Released in February 2011 Great Lakes: Release is eminent Ohio-Tennessee: In review; followed by a 30-day review period; then approximately 14 days addressing comments; then release per the Department. Missouri: Draft completed September 21, 2011 (then follows the same release procedure as the Ohio-Tennessee.) Arkansas-White-Red: Draft completed October 7, 2011 Lower Mississippi: Draft completed October 28, 2011 Northwest : All three are on schedule to be released by January South Atlantic/Gulf, Northeast, Texas Gulf, and Pacific: All three are on schedule to be released by January * This schedule is subject to change due to two forces: 1.Sometimes reviewers will find items they would like to be considered and NRCS explores them prior to release of a final public document. 2.The Department determines the timing of the release.

9 What CEAP Reveals in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Conservation Practices Work Compared to no conservation practices: –Sediment loss reduced by 69% –Total phosphorous loss reduced by 49% –Total nitrogen loss reduced by 18% –Pesticide risks to human health reduced by 48% Comprehensive Planning is Needed –Surface nitrogen losses reduced by 46% BUT subsurface losses are reduced by only 5% –Without nutrient management practices, erosion control practices can increase subsurface nitrogen losses by re-routing surface water to subsurface flow pathways Significant Progress Made in Reducing Erosion and Sedimentation –45% of the cropland and 72% of highly erodible land has structural practices –Edge of field sediment loss reduced by 69% –In-stream sediment reduced by 37% 9

10 N Loss Reduction in Subsurface Runoff with the average conservation practices applied 10

11 Upper Mississippi Sub-Basin CEAP: Targeting Conservation Increases Its Impact Targeting the most critical acres, compared to acres that have limited needs, increases practice effectiveness per acre: Over 5 times in reducing sediment Over 4 times in reducing total nitrogen Over 3 times in reducing total phosphorus 11

12 NRCS Landscape Initiatives Initiatives have national or regional significance and focus on critical resource concerns at the landscape level –Build on existing locally-led efforts and are partnership driven –Dedicated funding to accelerate implementation –Science-based –Assessment of performance and environmental outcomes 12

13 NRCS Landscape Initiatives in FY 2011 Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Sage Grouse Initiative Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative Bay Delta Initiative Illinois River Sub-basin and Eucha-Spavinaw Lake Watershed Initiative Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative Longleaf Pine Initiative New England/New York Forestry Initiative North Central Wetlands Conservation Initiative Ogallala Aquifer Initiative Red River Valley Initiative West Maui Coral Reef Initiative 13

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15 NRCS Expectations for ADWM Not about draining new acres Focus is managing drainage water for improved environmental outcomes and sustaining crop production Use a conservation systems approach—ADWM with nutrient management, conservation tillage, crop rotations, cover crops, etc. Consideration must be given to watershed/landscape context—downstream flow, flooding, groundwater Partnerships and collaboration will be essential— research, demonstration, technical and financial assistance, assessment and evaluation, etc. 15

16 Water Quality and a Conservation Systems Approach A conservation systems approach implements multiple practices and management techniques that work together to address water quality nutrient issues at the edge of farm fields Practices –Core –Supporting 16

17 The Conservation Planning Process Energy Climate Change Plants Soil Water AnimalsAir Conservation Planning 17

18 Conservation Practices and Systems Conservation practices and systems are used to address resource concerns. Practices and systems are science based and founded on trials, demonstrations, and practical application. There are nearly 170 conservation practice standards. Conservation practice standards undergo a public review process before they are adopted by NRCS. 18

19 19 Avoiding Nutrient management Rate, Timing, Form, Method Controlling Residue and tillage management Drainage water management Trapping Buffers Wetlands designed for nutrient removal Nutrients: Avoiding, Controlling, Trapping (ACT) Avoiding Trapping Controlling ACT

20 Management of Ag Drainage Water NRCS Ad Hoc Action Team (Phase I) Timeframe –September 2010 to February 2011 Sponsorship –RC, S&T, SSRA, Programs Leadership –Bill Gradle, Illinois State Conservationist Team Members –11 NRCS employees from NHQ, Centers and States Charge –Current use of ADWM –Barriers to adoption of ADWM –Lessons learned from adoption to date –Strategic action recommendations to increase adoption of ADWM 20

21 Management of Ag Drainage Water NRCS Action Team (Phase II) Timeframe –April 2011 to April 2013 Sponsorship –RC, S&T, SSRA, Programs Leadership –Paul Sweeney, Senior Project Leader Bismarck, North Dakota Team Members –18 NRCS employees from NHQ, Technical Centers and States Advisors: Jane Frankenberger Purdue University Norm Fausey USDA-ARS Wayne Skaggs NC State University – 2 Drainage Specialists – 5 Engineers – 3 Soil Scientists – 2 Program Managers – 2 Resource Conservationists – 1 Biologist – 1 Nutrient Management Specialist – 1 LIDAR/GIS Specialist – 1 Conservation Modeler (CEAP/APEX) 21

22 Management of Ag Drainage Water NRCS Action Team (Phase II) Charge: Evaluate Phase I recommendations for feasibility and priority Develop and implement NRCS Action Plan with partner input and involvement Help formulate and conduct National Summit Stimulate innovation and creativity Evaluate progress, performance and outcomes 22

23 Partner Input Periodic meetings/conference calls on draft NRCS Action Plan and issues/opportunities – March 23, 2011 – June 15, 2011 – October 11-12, 2011 (National Summit) Website to share materials CEAP Results—Upper Mississippi and ADWM Scenario Training Opportunities—MRBI Focus 23

24 Next Steps Finalize and implement NRCS Action Plan –Supported by State-level action plans Outreach to ag community –Local, state and national Education and training of technical providers Foster and promote innovation Assess/evaluate progress and “practice adaptive nutrient management” Keep conservation systems approach at the forefront 24

25 Partnership Opportunities Sustainable, environmentally friendly, safe food production By 2050 there will be 2.4 billion more people to feed.By 2050 there will be 2.4 billion more people to feed National Resources Inventory (NRI) tells us that U. S. cropland acreage dropped by 63 million acres between 1982 and National Resources Inventory (NRI) tells us that U. S. cropland acreage dropped by 63 million acres between 1982 and –From 420 million acres to 357 million acres To close the gap between current food production and future food demand, food output will need to increase by 70 percent over the next 4 decades.To close the gap between current food production and future food demand, food output will need to increase by 70 percent over the next 4 decades. 25

26 26 Loss of Agricultural Land

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28 “We cannot depend on windshield surveys and office planning to carry out a job of the complexity and magnitude of safeguarding our farmland and controlling floods.” - Hugh Hammond Bennett 28

29 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC or call (202) (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


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