Accountability at Local, State, and Federal Levels for Impacts of Agricultural Conservation Practices on Water Quality

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1998: $223,322.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Federal Funds: $79,200.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $90,500.00
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Dwight Fisher

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, poultry
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: grazing - continuous, manure management, pasture fertility, grazing - rotational, watering systems, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Natural Resources/Environment: hedges - grass, grass waterways, hedgerows, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: urban/rural integration, sustainability measures


    Under the Government Performance Reform Act, federal conservation programs are evaluated by impact on natural resources. However, assessment is not always a component of these programs designed to improve or protect our natural resources. We sampled water quality for 3 years at 2 week intervals in portions of a watershed that had received federal funding of conservation practices. Spatial and temporal variation made it problematic to detect and describe impacts of conservation spending designed to reduce non-point pollution. Local impact wasn’t necessarily reflected at a larger scale as landscape features such as impoundments and point discharges became predominant.

    Project objectives:

    Working within subwatersheds of the Upper Oconee Watershed of Georgia our objectives were to:

    1) Monitor impact on surface water quality (biological, chemical, and physical properties) discharged from the watersheds as EQIP subsidized conservation practices are installed.

    2) Examine monitoring at multiple scales and develop methods of addressing scaling issues that result in cost effective and scientifically defensible sampling strategies.

    3) Utilize field days, other technology transfer opportunities, electronic means to communicate results.

    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.