Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



How to Build Better Agricultural Conservation Programs to Protect Water Quality: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture–Conservation Effects Assessment Project Experience, Edited by Deanna L. Osmond, Donald W. Meals, Dana LK. Hoag, and Mazdak Arabi, 2012, 387 pages, hardcover ISBN 978-0-9769432-9-7


(c) 2012 Soil and Water Conservation Society.


The goal of the Nebraska National Institute of Food and Agriculture–Conservation Effects Assessment Project (NIFA–CEAP), Phase III, Central Platte Natural Resources District Project, Effectiveness of Irrigated Crop Management Practices in Reducing Groundwater Nitrate Concentrations, was to evaluate the effectiveness of documented farm management practices in lowering groundwater nitrate concentrations in a predominantly irrigated-corn watershed. The specific objectives included the following:

1. Analyze the trends in groundwater nitrate concentrations for the period of 1988 to 2006

2. Evaluate the effect of irrigation and nitrogen (N) inputs on groundwater nitrate concentrations using statistical approaches, including ArcGIS and cokriging and Bayesian Maximum Entropy

3. Evaluate the effects of crop rotation and conversion to sprinkler irrigation on groundwater nitrate concentrations using statistical covariate analysis

4. Assess the sensitivity of reductions in nitrate concentrations to management alternatives using statistical models

5. Assess the impact of uncontrollable (natural) variables on groundwater nitrate concentrations and overall effectiveness of management policies

6. Determine practices that can optimize reduction in leaching and improve groundwater quality

7. Compare groundwater nitrate concentrations and trends with those from less intensive spatial and temporal monitoring

8. Analyze the economic efficiency of the present policy in terms of cost per unit gain

9. Determine the impact of outlier producer behaviors on groundwater nitrate concentrations

10. Meet individually with producers who were slow to adopt identified practices (objective 6) to encourage acceptance and demonstrate appropriate practices on selected producers’ fields

11. Evaluate producer adoption of identified practices after three years of targeted education

12. Disseminate results to stakeholders and decision makers through a variety of outreach mechanisms

13. Modify the existing Web-based agrichemical groundwater database to accommodate project data