Agriculture and the Quality of the Nation's Waters

Science Center Objects

Intensive studies by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project in agricultural areas provide insight into how agricultural activities have altered the natural flow of water and the way that agricultural chemicals enter streams and aquifers, and in particular how nutrients affect algal and invertebrate communities in agricultural streams.

We all have a connection to agriculture, which supplies a major part of the Nation’s food, feed, and fiber needs. Agricultural chemicals move into and through every component of the hydrologic system, including air, soil, soil water, streams, wetlands, and groundwater.

Tractor pulling fertilizer on a new crop

The results of these NAWQA agricultural-area studies are described in two USGS publications: Agriculture—A River Runs Through It—The Connections Between Agriculture and Water Quality (Circular 1433) and Understanding the Influences of Nutrients on Stream Ecosystems in Agricultural Landscapes (Circular 1437). Find additional publications under the Publications tab and presentations under the Multimedia tab.

Map of River basin Circular 1433,1437

Map of the agricultural areas across the United States whose results are summarized in USGS Circulars 1433 and 1437.