Environmental stewardship via landscape conservation planning, yields beneficial results for water quality in an agricultural watershed

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Shantz, Stephanie
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University of Guelph

Agriculture is one of the largest non-point source polluters contributing to the degradation, toxicity, and damage of the Great Lakes. Trends in agricultural management practice have shifted over the decades to a more holistic system of conservation agriculture that functions on the tenets of landscape conservation planning, protecting the environment for future generations, while also protecting revenues and lifestyles of the people that work in agriculture. This study uses geophysical characteristics to reconfigure land cover in an agricultural watershed known to have water quality issues, while maintaining field boundaries and management, composition proportions, and it takes no land out of production. Using AnnAGNPS a base and designed scenario were created, run, compared, and analysed. The design resulted in a decrease of estimated parenthetical values of pollutants. Empirical results show that this design approach reduces the impact of agriculture on the environment while maintaining profitable production land. Working at this scale while using and producing empirical data, suggests water quality improvements are possible through evidence-based landscape architecture that maintains agricultural land covers changing only some of their locations.

Agricultural watershed, Canagagigue Creek, Land cover, agricultural pollutants