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Beyond the edge: Linking agricultural landscapes, stream networks, and best management practices

January 15, 2018

Despite much research and investment into understanding and managing nutrients across agricultural landscapes, nutrient runoff to freshwater ecosystems is still a major concern. We argue there is currently a disconnect between the management of watershed surfaces (agricultural landscape) and river networks (riverine landscape). These landscapes are commonly managed separately, but there is limited cohesiveness between agricultural landscape-focused research and river science, despite similar end goals. Interdisciplinary research into stream networks that drain agricultural landscapes is expanding but is fraught with problems. Conceptual frameworks are useful tools to order phenomena, reveal patterns and processes, and in interdisciplinary river science, enable the joining of multiple areas of understanding into a single conceptual–empirical structure. We present a framework for the interdisciplinary study and management of agricultural and riverine landscapes. The framework includes components of an ecosystems approach to the study of catchment–stream networks, resilience thinking, and strategic adaptive management. Application of the framework is illustrated through a study of the Fox Basin in Wisconsin, USA. To fully realize the goal of nutrient reduction in the basin, we suggest that greater emphasis is needed on where best management practices (BMPs) are used within the spatial context of the combined watershed–stream network system, including BMPs within the river channel. Targeted placement of BMPs throughout the riverine landscape would increase the overall buffering capacity of the system to nutrient runoff and thus its resilience to current and future disturbances.

Publication Year 2018
Title Beyond the edge: Linking agricultural landscapes, stream networks, and best management practices
DOI 10.2134/jeq2017.08.0319
Authors Rebecca M. Kreiling, Martin C. Thoms, William B. Richardson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Environmental Quality
Index ID 70195316
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center