GLRI Edge of Field Monitoring

Science Center Objects

Edge-of-field monitoring focuses on identifying and reducing agricultural sources of excess nutrients which threaten the health of the Great Lakes. The USGS supports these efforts by utilizing edge-of-field monitoring to assess the quantity and quality of agricultural runoff and evaluate conservation practices that aim to reduce sediment and nutrient loss.

Edge of field monitoring equipment with labels
(Public domain.)

The purpose of this effort is to evaluate sources and potential reductions of nutrients and sediments delivered from agricultural areas through implementation of USDA agricultural conservation practices within the Priority Watersheds (Lower Fox River, WI; Saginaw River, MI; Maumee River, OH; and Genesee River, NY). These watersheds were selected because of the high density of agricultural land use and their ecosystem impairments. All Priority Watersheds are associated with designated Areas of Concern, which are waters of significant environmental degradation. This effort will provide relevant information to scientists and participating agencies evaluating the impacts of agricultural conservation practices through a combination of monitoring and modeling at multiple scales.

Edge of Field Monitoring equipment, Black Creek Watershed
(Public domain.)

Nutrient and sediment runoff that enters rivers and streams from agricultural lands can contribute to the growth of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and have other negative water quality impacts. USGS scientists have worked closely with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to evaluate sources and potential reductions of nutrients and sediments delivered from agricultural areas. This effort is providing relevant inofrmation to scientists and agencies evaluating the impacts of agriculutal Best Management Practices through a combination of monitoring and modeling. There is also a sharing of information with local stakeholders and farmer-to-farmer communications which improves knowledge and helps to inform future management actions.