Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Water Quality Runoff Tool from the USDA


A new online tool gives farmers and ranchers a better understanding of the quality of water flowing off their fields and into waterways. The new tool is called the Water Quality Index for Agricultural Runoff (WQIag) and was developed by scientists at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Rather than just assess one dimension of water quality his tool offers a complete picture. It is currently being tested, but NRCS engineers say they hope to eventually offer the WQIag as a free smartphone app.

To get results a number of variables about a given field (eg slope, soil characteristics, nutrient and pest management, tillage practices and conservation practices) are entered into the tool. The WQIag then calculates these variables into a single rating on a 10-point scale, with 0 being very poor and 10 being excellent.

By adjusting some of the input variables farmers and ranchers can assess the impacts that these efforts will have an overall water quality.

To access the USDA's water quality tool click here.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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