Land Management Strategies for Watershed Restoration: An Integration of Spatial Modeling with Dynamic Programming

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2007: $9,004.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Grant Recipient: The Ohio State University
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Faculty Advisor:
Brent Sohngen
The Ohio State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans, wheat


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, nutrient management
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: drift/runoff buffers, wetlands

    Proposal abstract:

    Land Management Strategies for Watershed Restoration: An Integration of Spatial Modeling with Dynamic ProgrammingIn the United States, nutrient pollution from agriculture is the leading cause of water quality deterioration. There are indications that the water quality related policies are leaning towards making farmers fully accountable for their nutrient discharge. Thus, an approach is needed for an ex-ante evaluation of land management strategies (LMS) to test their efficacy and cost efficiency in controlling nutrient load. This will help both farmers and policy makers to arrive at site-specific LMS (on-farm and off-farm) to reduce nutrient export. The proposed research uses stochastic dynamic programming with spatially explicit water quality modeling to choose the suitable LMS. This way spatial and temporal dimension of nitrogen loading reduction from agriculture with LMS can be addressed. The methodology will be applied on an impaired watershed in Ohio, Upper Big Walnut watershed (UBW), which provides drinking water for about 0.8 million residents in Columbus. The model maximizes the net social benefits to reduce nitrogen flux to the streams and the Hoover reservoir. The Arc-SWAT model will be used to simulate nitrogen stock and processes in the agricultural fields, streams and reservoir with LMS. The LMS will be selected based on its worthiness in maximizing net social benefits. The most important outcome of the project will be a full list of cost effective and site-specific on-farm and off-farm LMS that can be adopted individually or collectively to restore water quality in UBW. All these efforts will help in spreading the need for most effective and economic control of nutrient flux from agriculture and ensuring water quality. The project will be evaluated by the student’s advisor, reviewed by the faculty advisory committee, reported in OSU fact sheets/farmers bulletins and published in peer-reviewed journals.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The specific objectives of the projects are to,
    1. Understand the farmers production practices, perception and knowledge about non-point source pollution from agriculture and need for watershed restoration;
    2. Identify, evaluate and prioritize the site-specific on-farm and off-farm LMS to reduce nitrogen loading.
    3. Evaluate the farmer’s perception about the selected on-farm and off-farm strategies for nutrient export from agriculture.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.