NU Water-Related Research in Gage County

The list below shows water-related research being conducted within your district or that affects your district. They are sorted by water topic, then by primary contact's last name.

Displaying 10 records found for Gage County


Topic Crop Nutrient Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Wortmann, Charles
Unit Agronomy and Horticulture
Email cwortmann2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-2909
Web Page http://agronomy.unl.edu/wortmann
Project Information
Title Nitrogen Use Efficiency of Irrigated Corn for Three Cropping Systems in Nebraska
Other(s) Charles Shapiro, Agronomy & Horticulture, cshapiro@unl.edu; Richard Ferguson, Agronomy & Horticulture, rferguson1@unl.edu; Gary Hergert, Panhandle Research & Extension Center, ghergert1@unl.edu 
Description

Overview Nitrogen fertilizer will continue to be indispensible for meeting global food, feed, and fiber needs. Voroneyand Derry (2008) estimated that 340 million Mg yr-1 N is fixed by natural means, including lightning and biological N fixation, and 105 million Mg yr-1 is fixed by human activities, including burning of fossil fuels and N fertilizer production, with N fixation by human activities expected to continue to increase. Townsend and Howarth (2010) estimated the amount of N fixed by human activities to be about 180 million Mg yr-1, with most used as mineral fertilizer. Fertilizer N production has important environmental implications with an average of ~2.55 kg CO2 emitted per kg fertilizer N fixed and transported (Liska et al., 2009). Th e amount of N applied is associated with emission of N2O (IPCC–OECD, 1997) and N accumulation in sensitive aquatic, marine, and terrestrial ecosystems (Groffman, 2008; Malakoff , 1998). Th e challenge is to produce more grain to meet growing global needs with high NUE.

Conclusions Across diverse production environments, high corn yields can be achieved with efficient use of soil and applied N and without high risk of NO3 -N leaching to groundwater. With excellent farm management, recovery of applied fertilizer-N in high-yielding corn fields of Nebraska was well above 60 to 70% at the economically optimal nitrogen rate (EONR), resulting in low residual soil nitrate nitrogen (RSN) levels. Agronomic efficiency and crop partial factor productivity (PFP), the Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) components most closely related to profitability of production, can also be high at EONR. Less preplant and more in-season N application may be especially important for drybean (CD) which had low recovery efficiency (RE) and much postharvest RSN compared with corn (CC) and soybean (CS). The levels of NUE achieved in our study for CC and CS far exceed current national or regional means, demonstrating the potential for high NUE with high yield corn production. Further NUE efficiency may be gained through more accurate in-season N application such as with use of the presidedress NO3 test (Andraski and Bundy, 2002) and spatial variation in N rate in response to variation in crop need, such as through use of reflectance sensors (Scharf and Lory, 2009; Barker and Sawyer, 2010; Roberts et al., 2010).

Project Support Nebraska State Legislature, Nebraska Agricultural Business Association
Project Website
Report Wortmann_NUE.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Drought
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hanson, Paul
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email phanson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7762
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=758
Project Information
Title Pre-Historic Drought Records from the Eastern Platte River Valley
Other(s) R. Matt Joeckel, School of Natural Resources, rjoeckel3@unl.edu; Aaron Young, School of Natural Resources, ayoung3@unl.edu 
Description Recent studies have related large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and elsewhere on the western Great Plains to prehistoric megadroughts. At the eastern margin of the Great Plains, however, little or no effort has been expended toward identifying the impacts and severity of these climatic events. The eastern margin of the Great Plains should be of particular interest in paleclimate studies because it represents an important biogeographic boundary that may have shifted over time. In dunes around the present confluence of the Loup and Platte Rivers near Duncan, Nebraska, optical dating contrains, for the first time, the chronology of dune activity in the central-eastern margin of the Great Plains. A total of 17 optical age estimates taken from dune sediments clearly indicate two significant periods of dune activation at 5,100 to 3,500 years ago and 850-500 years ago. These reconstructed time intervals overlap both periods of large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and ancient droughts identified from other paleoclimate proxy records on the western Great Plains. The agreement between results from the eastern margin of the Great Plains and data from farther west indicate that megadroughts were truly regional in their effect. In order to further test a hypothesis of geographically-widespread megadrought effects, future work will date other dune deposits in eastern Nebraska from sites along the Loup and Elkhorn Rivers, as well as dunes in east-central Kansas and western Iowa.
Project Support United States Geological Survey Statemap Program
Project Website
Report Hanson Eastern Platte Valley.pdf
Current Status Published in Geomorphology 103 (2009) 555-561
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hay, Paul
Unit Extension
Email phay1@unl.edu
Phone 402-223-1384
Web Page http://gage.unl.edu/web/gage/aboutus
Project Information
Title Extension Programming, Gage County, Nebraska
Description

Current programing and research includes a cropping systems rotation study;,earthworm populations in tilled versus no-till fields, water infiltration on tilled versus no-tilled fields, home water wells and treatment systems, and radon indoor air quality.

As of spring 2008 Gage County had:
  • 128 farmers with over 75,000 acres of no-till carbon contracts offered for sale on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Future efforts are focused on water quality cost share efforts targeting atrazine reduction in the Blue River system and unintended consequences of our ethanol and biofuel development in Nebraska.
  • 560 4-H members in 29 clubs and another 1500+ school enrichment contacts every year. Gage County 4-H features active and changing projects to meet youth needs like robotics, GPS training, conservancy breeds, corn rootworm surveys following UNL research guidelines, and 560 5th graders participating in an annual earth festival education program. The festival features seven half hour sessions on water and earth science education held outdoors at Camp Jefferson.
Project Support n/a
Project Website http://www.gage.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Skipton, Sharon
Unit Southeast Research and Extension Center
Email sskipton1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-3662
Web Page http://www.southeast.unl.edu/staffdir/Skipton_Sharon
Project Information
Title Southeast Research and Extension Center
Other(s) Gary Zoubek, York County Extension, gzoubek@unl.edu 
Description Each day University of Nebraska Extension makes a difference in the lives of adults and youth. The faculty and staff in the Southeast Research and Extension Center and the 28 County Offices work to bring relevant researched based information to people in communities, towns and urban centers. Our efforts rely increasingly on partnerships with government agencies, business, industry, schools and community organizations. Working together with our partners Extension strives to strengthen the social, economic and environmental base of Nebraska's communities. Our programs must be ever-changing as Extension listens and responds to issues as they evolve. The Southeast Research and Extension District is unique because it serves both urban and rural communities Nebraska. The faculty and staff are committed to bringing the resources of the University and its research based information to the individuals and communities of Southeast Nebraska.
Project Support Varies according to program and project - for more information see http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Project Website http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Hydrologic Connections in the Big and Little Blue River Basins
Other(s) Cheng Cheng, School of Natural Resources, ccheng2@unl.edu 
Description Over extraction of groundwater near a stream can lower stream stage and induce streamflow depletion when the stream and aquifer are hydrologically connected. The Little Blue River Basin is an area of intensive groundwater development for irrigation, and the streamflow depletion in this basin was determined by an analog model (Emery, 1966). However, the post audit of the model (Alley and Emery, 1986) suggested that the decline of water-levels was overestimated and streamflow depletion was underestimated. Therefore, it is necessary to re-evaluate stream-aquifer interactions in the basin. In this study, an area is chosen for this analysis from the basin and three main streams -- the Little Blue River, Big Sandy Creek, and Spring Creek are included. Channel sediments and structures play an important role in determining stream-aquifer interactions. Firstly, field and laboratory methods including geoprobe logging and permeameter tests are utilized to investigate the channel deposits in the three main streams in the Little Blue River Basin. Results show that channels have low hydraulic-permeable layers which reduce their hydraulic connections to the adjacent aquifers. Secondly, a groundwater flow model is constructed to identify the hydraulic properties of the aquifer and evaluate streamflow depletion under groundwater withdrawals in the study area. Modeling results indicate that streamflow depletion is very low and aquifer storage loss is the main source of groundwater pumpage.
Project Support Upper Big Blue Natural Resources Distrect, Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District, Little Blue Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Korus, Jesse
Unit Conservation and Survey Division
Email jkorus3@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7561
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/staff-member.asp?pid=1010
Project Information
Title Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA)
Other(s)

Paul Hanson, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, phanson2@unl.edu; Sue Lackey, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Divison, slackey1@unl.edu; Matt Marxsen, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, mmarxsen2@unl.edu

Dana Divine, ENWRA Project Coordinator, ddivine@lpsnrd.org

Visit the Nebraska Maps and More website (http://nebraskamaps.unl.edu/home.asp) to order an excellent publication that describes this project more in-depth, Bulletin 1: Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Introduction to a Hydrogeological Study.

 
Description

Eastern Nebraska contains 70% of the state's population, but is most limited in terms of the state's groundwater supplies. The population in this region is expected to increase; thus the need for reliable water supplies is paramount. Natural resources districts (NRDs), charged with ground water management in Nebraska, seek to improve their management plans in response to growing populations, hydrologic drought, and new conjunctive management laws. Detailed mapping and characterization is necessary to delineate aquifers, assess their degree of hydrologic connection with streams and other aquifers, and better predict water quality and quantity.

In a collaborative effort between local, state, and federal agencies, the ENWRA project has been initiated to gain a clearer understanding of the region's groundwater and interconnected surface water resources. These resources can be difficult to characterize because of the complex geology created by past glaciations. Acquiring geologic and hydrologic data in the eastern, or glaciated, part of Nebraska requires the use of multiple, innovative techniques. Currently, little is known about which techniques are most effective and feasible. Once identified, the most effective and feasible tools will be used to provide data, interpretations, and models for improved water resources management.

The ENWRA group has established three pilot test sites for intensive study using a variety of investigative techniques. The goal of the initial work being done at the three pilot test sites is to determine the location, extent, and connectivity of aquifers with surface waters, with the hope of expanding these investigative techniques across other portions of eastern Nebraska. The pilot test sites are located near Oakland, Ashland, and Firth with each site exhibiting differing geologic conditions. The techniques that will be utilized in the study include: 1) helicopter electromagnetic (HEM) surveys; 2) ground-based geophysical surveys; 3) test hole drilling; and 4) geochemical analysis, just to name a few. So far HEM surveys were completed over approximately one township at each site. Other techniques were used to provide "ground truth" data to support the HEM interpretations.

The agencies involved in the ENWRA are:

  • Lower Platte South Natural Resources District
  • Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
  • Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District
  • Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
  • Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District
  • Nemaha Natural Resources District
  • United States Geological Survey
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln Conservation and Survey Division
  • Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
  • Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Support Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Interrelated Water Management Plan/Program
Project Website http://www.enwra.org/
Report
Current Status HEM surveys are complete and 3-D aquifer diagrams have been prepared. Report Status: Ashland area report has been prepared and is under review and the Firth area report is being written.
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Study Sites. 
Topic Production Agriculture
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Burbach, Mark
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email mburbach1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8210
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=268
Project Information
Title Personality Characteristics and Conservation Tillage: Understanding Farmers to Improve Surface Water Quality in Tuttle Creek Lake, Kansas
Other(s) Courtney Quinn 
Description

Farmers chose to adopt conservation practices for varying reasons. There are many models of pro-environmental behaviors that include personal, physical, economic, and institutional factors. Models of farmer behavior that include personal factors often only examine farmers' education level and years farming. Testing additional factors would greatly improve our understanding of the relationship between farmers' knowledge, skills, and abilities and conservation tillage. This study examines three potential variables in relation to farmers' conservation tillage practices that benefit surface water quality, environmental attitude, work motivation, and moral reasoning about the environment.

This study focused on the Tuttle Creek Watershed, specifically Gage and Jefferson counties in southeast Nebraska and Washington and Marshall counties in northeast Kansas. Land use in this watershed is primarily agricultural, with approximately 72% in corn, soybean, grain sorghum or other crops, 10% in pastureland, and 10% in woodland. Herbicides are used extensively to control agricultural weeds. Soil infiltration rates in this area range from moderate to very slow. As a consequence, most soils have a moderate to very high potential of transporting contaminants to surface waters. As the base of the watershed, Tuttle Creek Reservoir is listed as impaired for siltation, eutrophication, atrazine and alachlor. Extremely high suspended solids and nutrient loads enter the reservoir during storm events and excessive siltation has occurred in the upper third of the original conservation pool reducing its volume by approximately 30%. In November 2007 4000 mail surveys were delivered to farmers in the study area. Data on the farmers' tillage practices and the personality variables, hypothesized to be antecedents to tillage practices, were collected. 505 surveys were used for this analysis.

Survey results suggest that farmers motivated by tangible rewards, personal standards, and a strong sense of purpose are likely to use conservation tillage. Farmers who obtained a higher degree of education have learned either a concern for the environment or the ability to apply newer conservation technologies. Farmers with higher sales also use more conservation practices. This suggests that income allows farmers to implement practices that may have high initial start-up costs. Farmers who earn a high percentage of their family income from farming also use more conservation practices. A heavy dependence on the success of the farm may cause farmers to have a long-term outlook and see the benefits of using conservation.

The negative relationship between use of conservation tillage and Self-concept External motivation suggests that efforts to encourage adoption of no-till practices need to target the entire farming community. The negative correlation between age and use of conservation tillage and between years farming and use of conservation tillage suggests than younger farmers, and those who have been farming for fewer years, are more interested and willing to use conservation practices. This may be because younger farmers have grown up during a time of concern for the natural environment. Younger farmers may also be less set in their ways and therefore willing to try new practices.

Other personal characteristics should be studied in addition to those studied as part of this project. For example, researchers should investigate whether farmers experience empathy with downstream residents and the distance of concern farmers consider when making decisions. Farmers' need for control, and their perceived ability to create desired change should be researched to discover if correlations or causations exist with likelihood to use conservation tillage.

Project Support USDA
Project Website
Report Burbach_Personality.pdf
Current Status Published in Great Plains Research 2008 Vol. 18:1, 103-114
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Gitelson, Anatoly
Unit Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies
Email agitelson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8386
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=39
Project Information
Title Using Remote Sensing to Detect the Threat of Blue-Green Algae
Description

Remote sensing is a useful tool for providing regulatory officials with the data necessary to make decisions regarding recreational waters. In 2005, CALMIT scientists undertook a collaborative effort with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality aimed at developing a tool to identify lakes where blue-green algae populations are present. The overall purpose was to incorporate those affected lakes into a toxic-algae alert procedure to provide early warnings to the public about the potential danger. This project also served to promote coordination and information sharing about toxic-algae issues among local units of government, lake associations, lake owners, and the public.

Both in-situ (close-range) and remote techniques were employed to detect and quantify in real-time the algal phytoplankton pigment concentration and composition (i.e., chlorophyll-a and phycocyanin in the water column). Two criteria were used to identify lakes and reservoirs with high probability of toxic algae: 1) chlorophyll concentration above 50 mg/m3; and 2) existence of blue green algae (the phycocyanin absorption feature has been used to indicate remotely the presence of blue-green algae). These criteria were tested by analytical assessment of toxic algae and the tests were positive: when the sensor systems indicated high probability of toxins, they were found in water samples.

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website http://www.calmit.unl.edu/research.php
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shea, Patrick
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email pshea1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1533
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=109
Project Information
Title Model to Identify Watershed Vulnerability and High Impact Programs
Other(s) Maribeth Milner, Agronomy and Horticulture, mmilner1@unl.edu; Gary D. Lynne, Agricultural Economics, glynne1@unl.edu; Mark E. Burbach, Conservation and Survey Division, mburbach1@unl.edu; Mark Bernards, Agronomy and Horticulture, mbernards2@unl.edu. 
Description

To protect water quality we need to better forecast environmental risks and guide conservation management decisions. Watershed vulnerability is determined by physical setting (soil, topography, and climate) and land management practices. If the most vulnerable areas can be determined, fields within those areas can be targeted for conservation management and mitigation of contamination. A model using the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database is being developed to identify vulnerable areas and determine the potential impact of management practices on agrichemical runoff and leaching within impaired watersheds in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Saunders County, NE is the primary site for development of the model, which will be applied in the Blue River watershed (Jefferson and Gage Counties in NE and Washington and Marshall Counties in KS).

To implement effective conservation practices it is necessary to understand what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers. A survey tool will be used to determine what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers in choosing practices and technologies in vulnerable areas. As part of this survey tool, an upstream individual's capacity and willingness to empathize with downstream water users about the quality and quantity of the water in Tuttle Creek Lake will be measured (see Cornhusker Economics article.) A statistical model will predict responsiveness to change and decision typologies will be mapped. A behavioral assessment model will be applied to selected areas upstream of Tuttle Creek, KS to predict the probability that producers and land managers will adopt the technologies and practices associated with total maximum daily load (TMDL) recommendations, as well as the extent of adoption. The information gained in this project can be used to design policy, incentive structures, and educational programs leading to the adoption of conservation management practices that improve and protect water quality.

Project Support USDA-CSREES National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Project Website http://www.agecon.unl.edu/Cornhuskereconomics/2008/8-20-08.pdf
Report Empathy Conditioned Conservation 1 14 09.pdf
Current Status Continuous
Topic Watershed Project
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shea, Patrick J.
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email pshea1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1533
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=109
Project Information
Title Application of Landscape Vulnerability Models to Assess Off-Site Pesticide Movement in a Nebraska-Kansas Watershed
Other(s) Maribeth Milner, Agronomy and Horticulture, mmilner1@unl.edu; Mark Bernards, Agronomy and Horticulture, mbernards2@unl.edu; Phil Barnes, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University, lbarnes@ksu.edu 
Description

Some landscape positions are more likely than others to contribute to ground and surface water contamination from agricultural inputs and management practices. By identifying these areas at a regional scale, resources can be optimally targeted to address potential problems at the field scale. We developed SSURGO (Soil Survey Geographic)-based models to assess vulnerability to pesticide contamination of ground or surface waters across the landscape. Upon application of the models to a four-county (NE-KS) study area (Blue River Basin), between-county discontinuities emerged. Each county soil map is based on the particular expression of soil-forming factors as interpreted by local mapping teams, but these teams may or may not have input on the mapping of adjacent counties. Soil map units are typically blended across county boundaries, but these changes will not correct fundamental differences in the models used to create soil maps. The discontinuities in our study area may be due to an end moraine that cuts northwest to southeast (predominantly through the western counties), differences in mapping dates (1975-2003), and variations in data interpretation by agencies in Kansas and Nebraska. By incorporating slope and slope length data generated from relatively high resolution 10 m DEMs (digital elevation models), we increased sensitivity to topography at the SSURGO polygon level. Model output between the SSURGO-based and the DEM-based topographic data differed substantially for the eastern glaciated counties, but were relatively similar for the western counties. Assuming that the DEM is correct, this suggests a lack of consistency in defining the SSURGO representative slope and (or) slope lengths among counties. Although discontinuities occur between counties, model output can be used to identify the most vulnerable areas within each county. Model utility is demonstrated by comparing model output with surface water quality measurements in the watershed.

Maps resulting from our models show relative landscape vulnerability to pesticide leaching and runoff. This information can be used to prioritize and target areas within a watershed for conservation management practices and other actions that will reduce contamination of water resources and improve water quality. We applied the models to a four-county NE-KS study area (Big Blue Basin) and propose solutions to discontinuities between counties resulting from variations in data intepretation due to differences in mapping teams and dates. We use surface water quality measurements to show the utility of our models.

Project Support USDA-CSREES National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Project Website http://www.usawaterquality.org/conferences/2009/PDF/Wshed-poster/Shea09.pdf
Report
Current Status Continuing