Land-use impacts on water quality in Beasley Lake Watershed, Mississippi using AnnAGNPS

Author(s): Yasarer, L.; Bingner, R.; Locke, M.; Lizotte, R.

Land-use in agricultural watersheds has a fundamental role in shaping hydrologic processes, erosion, and nutrient export. However, changing land-use can be a challenge when assessing the effects of specific agricultural management practices on overall watershed water quality. On a practical level, this challenge often arises from a lack of data describing field-scale land-use and management practices over time. In this study, detailed land-use and management data from 1995-2009 are utilized to conduct AnnAGNPS watershed simulations for Beasley Lake Watershed located in the Mississippi Delta. AnnAGNPS is capable of estimating field-scale sediment and nutrient export on various spatial and time scales, which allows for spatial and temporal analysis of the effects of land-use change. Two major changes in land-use occurred in the watershed over the study period: 1) a change from predominantly cotton to soybean-rotations in 60% of total watershed cropland, and 2) a change from predominantly cotton to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices in 23% of total watershed cropland. The impacts of these two land-use changes will be examined by comparing nutrient and sediment export at the field-level, as well as overall watershed loads throughout the study period. Results from this study will help understand the effect of overall land-use changes on pollutant loads impacting water quality in the Mississippi Delta, where a general decrease in cotton land-use has occurred from 1999 – 2009, coinciding with an increase in soybean and corn land-use. The information from this study can be helpful to conservationists when developing management plans that incorporate effective conservation practices to improve watershed water quality.

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