The effectiveness of agricultural conservation programmes to adequately reduce nutrient exports to receiving streams and to help limit downstream hypoxia issues remains a concern. Quantifying programme success can be difficult given that short-term basin changes may be masked by long-term water-quality shifts. We evaluated nutrient export at stream sites in the 44 months that followed a period of increased, integrated conservation implementation within the Lower Grand River Basin. These short-term responses were then compared with export that occurred in the main stem and adjacent rivers in northern Missouri over a 22-year period to better contextualize any recent changes. Results indicate that short-term (October 2010 through May 2014) total nitrogen (TN) concentrations in the Grand River were 20% less than the long-term average, and total phosphorus (TP) concentrations were 23% less. Nutrient reductions in the short term were primarily the result of the less-than-average precipitation and, consequently, streamflow that was 36% below normal. Therefore, nutrient concentrations measured in tributary streams were likely less than normal during the implementation period. Northern Missouri streamflow-normalized TN concentrations remained relatively flat or declined over the period 1991 through 2013 likely because available sources of nitrogen, determined as the sum of commercial fertilizers, available animal manures and atmospheric inputs, were typically less than crop requirement for much of that time frame. Conversely, flow-normalized stream TP concentrations increased over the past 22 years in northern Missouri streams, likely in response to many years of phosphorus inputs in excess of crop requirements. Stream nutrient changes were most pronounced during periods that coincided with the major tillage, planting and growth phases of row crops and increased streamflow. Nutrient reduction strategies targeted at the period February through June would likely have the greatest impact on reducing nutrient export from the basin. Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.
|Title||Water-quality assessment of the Lower Grand River Basin, Missouri and Iowa, USA, in support of integrated conservation practices|
|Authors||Donald H. Wilkison, Daniel J. Armstrong|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||River Research and Applications|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Missouri Water Science Center|