Title

Measuring conservation program BMP implementation and maintenance at the watershed scale

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Soil and Water Conservation

Volume

65

Publication Date

1-1-2010

First Page

413

Last Page

423

DOI

10.2489/jswc.65.6.413

Abstract

There is growing interest in evaluating the impacts at the watershed scale of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) designed to improve water quality. Many approaches to impact assessment require detailed information about actual BMP use by farmers and landowners in a watershed. This paper examines the strengths and weaknesses of using formal USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service records of conservation program participation as an indicator of spatial and temporal patterns of BMP implementation and maintenance. Field interviews with conservation program participants revealed potential limitations with official records regarding (1) documentation of the incidence of successful BMP implementation, (2) the nature of the BMPs that were implemented, (3) accurate measurement of the timing and location of BMP implementations, and (4) information about the long-term use and maintenance of implemented BMPs. The results suggest that official records should be field-verified before being used as indicators of BMP use. The findings also point to a larger need for development of more robust and accurate systems for tracking BMP implementation and maintenance over periods of time.

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