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A new landscape based approach to optimize riparian zone nitrogen and phosphorus management in glaciated settings

Posted by | February 20, 2021

Principal investigators: Philippe G. Vidon, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry;

Associated with: USDA-AFRI – Nitrogen and Phosphorus Cycling Program

Project Summary:

Riparian zones are widely used best management practices to mitigate the impact of agriculture on water quality with respect to nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). However, their intense biogeochemistry also affects groundwater P concentration, and N2O emission. Few studies nevertheless integrate N, P, and N2O data across a range of landscape conditions to help understand the role of riparian zones with respect to NO3- and PO43- fluxes and N2O efflux. For this project, we will develop a geospatial database of riparian zone attributes in relation to N removal, P losses to streams, and N2O emission using original data from 36 riparian sites in agricultural areas of the US Midwest and US Northeast where riparian zones are commonly used as best management practices. We will use multivariate statistical approaches to reduce data dimensionality, and build statistical models to predict riparian function. We will also improve the usability of the commonly used Riparian Ecosystem Management Model (REMM) by developing default model parameters for dominant riparian geomorphic types in these regions. We will then assess the accuracy of our model predictions at new sites using short field campaigns and compare REMM simulation results to our statistical models results, including during low and high precipitation periods as those are forecasted to become more common. This work will benefit academics, local, state, and federal agencies involved in riparian ecosystem management and increase our fundamental understanding of the role riparian zones in N and P cycling in agroecosystems of the US and beyond. (Program Area #A1401).