SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Impact of crop rotations on optimal selection of conservation practices for water quality protection 
Authors:Rabotyagov, S.S., M. Jha and T. Campbell 
Journal:Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 
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Broad Application Category:pollutant only 
Primary Application Category:BMP assessment (genetic algorithm or similar optimization approach) 
Secondary Application Category:economic assessment 
Watershed Description:47.3 km^2 Squaw Creek in east-central Iowa, USA 
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Abstract:This research integrates modern multiobjective optimization tools, water quality modeling capability, and data on costs of implementing conservation practices to develop a tradeoff frontier of cost-efficient nonpoint source pollution reduction solutions, which can be used to derive the watershed-level pollution abatement cost curve. Farmers’ decisions, both on the intensive and the extensive margin, are likely to affect the shape of the tradeoff frontier as well as the mix of conservation practices selected for achievement of given nutrient reduction goals. In this paper, we wish to explore the consequences of changes in the cropping practices on the intensive margin and changes in the amount of cropland on the extensive margin on the baseline water quality as well as the shape of the tradeoff frontier and the mix of conservation practices. An empirical application focuses on a typical Midwestern agricultural watershed, Squaw Creek watershed in central Iowa. Using detailed crop production budgets, we follow Secchi and Babcock (2007) to demonstrate an alternative land-use scenario, which could arise from recently observed changes in crop prices and production costs. We find that the change in cropping practices effects direct changes in the shape of the tradeoff frontier and the mix and location of conservation practices selected to achieve particular nutrient loading reductions. In particular, we find that a potential shift to more corn (Zea mays L.)-intensive crop rotations and an increase in the amount of cropland in the watershed may lead to increased loadings of both nitrate and phosphorus and that additional conservation investments are required to maintain water quality gains achieved under the baseline (historic) cropping practices. In terms of conservation practices selected, the optimal placement of terraces appears robust to the changes in crop rotations and amount of cropland in the alternative land-use scenario. 
Keywords:conservation practices, crop choice, evolutionary algorithm, water quality