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You are here: Home / About WQIC / Working Group on Water Resources / Water Quality: A Report of Progress / Demonstration Projects  Printer Friendly Page
About the Water Quality Information Center
Working Group on Water Resources

Water Quality: A Report of Progress

Published Sep 1997

Demonstration Projects - Selected Impacts

When USDAs Water Quality Program began, plans were made to implement projects to hasten the adoption of Best Management Practices (BMP's).

Demonstration projects, located in 16 States, were planned to shorten the time necessary for transfer and adoption of new management techniques by farmers. The intent was to speed up the usual time lag between the research plot and the farmer's field.

The 16 demonstration projects were distributed from California to Maryland, and from Florida to Idaho. Some selected highlights of their impacts follow.

In the Mid-Nebraska Demonstration Project:

  • 200 of 273 surveyed farmers (73%) indicated that they had reduced nitrogen applications.
  • Over 100 farmers indicated an average reduction in nitrogen application of 31 lbs per acre.
  • Nutrient management practices have been adopted on 6,000 acres of corn.
  • Estimated reductions in nitrogen use are 90 tons per year.

Farmers and ranchers in the Seco Creek Demonstration Project (Texas) have adopted (one or more) recommended BMP's on 80% of their rangeland, 94% of their pasture acreage, and 75% of their cropland.

In Minnesota's Anoka Sand Plain Demonstration Project, 37 producers reduced nitrogen use by 15 lbs per acre on 6,400 acres, for a total reduction of 48 tons of nitrogen in 1996. They also reduced phosphorus applications by 6 lbs per acre on 6,300 acres, for a total reduction of 19 tons.

The Saginaw Bay Demonstration Project (Michigan) identified; 75 abandoned wells, and plugged 54 of them. Some 19,000 acres were soil tested for nitrogen in 1996; the average nitrogen "credit" (i.e., nitrogen that need not be applied as fertilizer) was 51 lbs per acre. Nitrogen fertilizer applications were reduced 485 tons, saving the farmers nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

In Maryland's Monocacy River Watershed Water Quality Demonstration Project, farmers have adopted nitrogen management practices on 11,000 acres, saving 27 lbs per acre of fertilizer nitrogen for a total reduction of 148 tons per vear and a reduction in phosphorus fertilizers of 214 tons per vear. The use of PSNT on 1,000 acres reduced nitrogen applications by 50 lbs per acre a reduction of 25 tons per year. For the period 1990 through 1996, nitrogen applications were reduced by some 1,400 tons, and phosphorus by some 1,750 tons.

In the South Dakota - Big Sioux Aquifer Demonstration Project, farmers reduced nitrogen applications on 1,500 acres by 6 lbs per acre, reducing nitrogen fertilizer inputs by 4.5 tons in 1996, and by 180 tons for the years 1991 through 1995.

The Sacramento Demonstration Project (California) developed alternative irrigation systems that reduce the discharge of a major rice pesticide in public waterways by 97 percent, and that reduce water use in rice production by 40 percent.

The Northeast Iowa Demonstration Project reports that the average fertilizer-N rate on all corn rotations was 115 lbs per acre in 1993 compared to 174 lbs per acre in 1981. In 1993, nitrogen use was reduced in the basin by nearly 2 million pounds; an average reduction of 5 tons for each of the 200 basin farmers, and an average savings of $1,800 per producer.

Last Modified: Feb 25, 2011

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