New USGS-USDA Study Quantifies the Benefits of Agricultural Conservation in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

Nutrient reductions attributable to agricultural conservation practices in the Upper Mississippi Basin ranged from 5-34% for nitrogen and from 1-10% for total phosphorus, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.  The study integrated conservation science and farmer survey information obtained by the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) with the USGS SPARROW water-quality model to determine the extent stream nutrient levels were affected by the use of conservation practices on farms.

Additional information on the USGS SPARROW modeling approach and a nutrient mapper and an online decision support tool for the Mississippi River basin is available online.  USDA developed CEAP to provide more quantitative science-based guidance on the benefits of conservation practices and identify further treatment needs. CEAP data has been found useful in providing information and guidance on the best use of funding for conservation and to facilitate the alignment of conservation programs with national environmental protection priorities such as the restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.  The links are as follows:


News Release:

For additional information on the study, contact Ana Garcia (