Widespread adoption of agricultural conservation measures in Lake Erie's Maumee River watershed may be required to reduce phosphorus loading that drives harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. We engaged agricultural and conservation stakeholders through a survey and workshops to determine which conservation practices to evaluate. We investigated feasible and desirable conservation practices using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool calibrated for streamflow, sediment, and nutrient loading near the Maumee River outlet. We found subsurface placement of phosphorus applications to be the individual practice most influential on March-July dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) loading from row croplands. Perennial cover crops and vegetated filter strips were most effective for reducing seasonal total phosphorus (TP) loading. We found that practices effective for reducing TP and DRP load were not always mutually beneficial, culminating in trade-offs among multiple Lake Erie phosphorus management goals. Adoption of practices at levels considered feasible to stakeholders led to nearly reaching TP targets for western Lake Erie on average years; however, adoption of practices at a rate that goes beyond what is currently considered feasible will likely be required to reach the DRP target.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry