SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Estimating the effect of winter cover crops on nitrogen leaching using cost-share enrollment data, satellite remote sensing, and Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) modeling 
Authors:Hively, W.D., S. Lee, A.M. Sadeghi, G.W. McCarty, B.T. Lamb, A. Soroka, J. Keppler, I.-Y. Yeo and G.E. Moglen 
Journal:Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 
Volume (Issue):75(3) 
Article ID: 
URL (non-DOI journals): 
Broad Application Category:hydrologic and pollutant 
Primary Application Category:land use change 
Secondary Application Category:BMP and/or cropping system assessment 
Watershed Description:225 km^2 Upper Tuckahoe Creek, a tributary of the Choptank River located on the Delmarva Peninsula in eastern Maryland, U.S. 
Calibration Summary: 
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General Comments: 
Abstract:This study employed a novel combination of data (winter cover crop [WCC] costshare enrollment records, satellite remote sensing of wintertime vegetation, and results of Soil and Water Assessment Tool [SWAT] water quality simulations) to estimate the environmental performance of WCC at the watershed scale, from 2008 through 2017, in the Tuckahoe Creek watershed, located within the Choptank River basin. The Choptank River is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, and, as a focus watershed for the USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project, has been the subject of considerable study assessing linkages between land use and water quality. Farm enrollment data from the Maryland Agricultural Cost Share (MACS) program documented a large increase in the use of WCC within the Tuckahoe Creek watershed during the study period, rising from 27% of corn (Zea mays L.) fields and 9% of soybean (Glycine max L.) fields in 2008 to 89% of corn fields and 46% of soybean fields in 2016. Satellite remote sensing of wintertime ground cover detected increased wintertime vegetation following corn crops, in comparison to full season and double cropped soybean, consistent with patterns of cover crop implementation. Although interannual variation in climate strongly affected observed levels of vegetation, with warm winters resulting in increased vegetative cover, a 30-year analysis of wintertime greenness revealed significant increases in wintertime vegetation associated with increased adoption of WCC. The MACS WCC enrollment data were combined with output from the SWAT model, calibrated to streamflow and nutrient loading from the Upper Tuckahoe watershed, to estimate water quality impacts based on known distribution of cover crop species and planting dates (2008 to 2017). Results indicated a 25% overall 10-year reduction in nitrate (NO3 – ) leaching from cropland attributable to cover crop adoption, rising to an estimated 38% load reduction in 2016 when 64% of fields were planted to cover crops. Results suggest that increased environmental benefits would be achieved by shifting agronomic methods away from late-planted wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), which comprised 34.7% of all WCC planted between 2008 and 2017. 
Keywords:CEAP, Choptank, cover crops, remote sensing, SWAT, water quality