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Corn production in the United States provides an example of the agricultural changes that have occurred in recent times. Because all such agricultural activity potentially can affect the environment to some degree, the challenge is now to quantify and understand those effects. Although monitoring of the environment for such effects is not new, the procedures often fall short of providing reliable quantitative data. One example is the inconsistent, incomplete, and unreliable information currently available to assess US surface water quality and trends in that quality. The utilization of probability-based sampling designs could playa vital role in the improvement of information on the interface between agricultural activity and environmental quality.