Date

2019 12:00 AM

Major

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Department

Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

College

Engineering

Project Advisor

Amy Kaleita

Description

Prairie potholes are surface depressions left behind after deglaciation in regions of the Midwest, Montana and three Canadian provinces, known as the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). These hydrologically isolated depressions are small, shallow, semi-permanent waterbodies fed mostly by surface runoff. In Iowa, the majority of these potholes have been artificially drained to improve farming conditions, altering their provision of ecosystem services such as flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, and nutrient filtering. Crop losses are observed regardless of drainage condition, frequently inducing economic loss. With the agricultural community currently operating on narrow profit margins, producers must have the information to evaluate alternative management practices that may provide additional environmental and societal benefits while maintaining farm-level profitability. This study has reviewed existing literature and current interdisciplinary research at Iowa State University on farmed prairie potholes. Then, we developed a vision for the structure and function of an Excel-based tool that will provide quantitative assessments of alternative management options. Options evaluated would include conventional farming practices, enrolling land in the Conservation Reserve Program, or planting an alternative energy crop. Supporting analysis examples would include a cost evaluation, a water quality assessment, a microbial greenhouse gas assessment, and an assessment of crop loss risk.

File Format

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

Prairie Pothole Management and Decision-Making Tool Development

Prairie potholes are surface depressions left behind after deglaciation in regions of the Midwest, Montana and three Canadian provinces, known as the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). These hydrologically isolated depressions are small, shallow, semi-permanent waterbodies fed mostly by surface runoff. In Iowa, the majority of these potholes have been artificially drained to improve farming conditions, altering their provision of ecosystem services such as flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, and nutrient filtering. Crop losses are observed regardless of drainage condition, frequently inducing economic loss. With the agricultural community currently operating on narrow profit margins, producers must have the information to evaluate alternative management practices that may provide additional environmental and societal benefits while maintaining farm-level profitability. This study has reviewed existing literature and current interdisciplinary research at Iowa State University on farmed prairie potholes. Then, we developed a vision for the structure and function of an Excel-based tool that will provide quantitative assessments of alternative management options. Options evaluated would include conventional farming practices, enrolling land in the Conservation Reserve Program, or planting an alternative energy crop. Supporting analysis examples would include a cost evaluation, a water quality assessment, a microbial greenhouse gas assessment, and an assessment of crop loss risk.