Alternative Futures for Agricultural Watersheds

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Our research explores potential effects of alternative land use and management choices on water quality and biodiversity in the United States Cornbelt. Designed future scenarios and GIS-based models are used to evaluate the potential impact of different public attitudes and policy choices in agricultural watersheds.  The purpose of the research is to generate discussion and ideas about directions for innovations in agriculture. We hope that this research will spark discussion among farmers, local and regional conservation boards and planning agencies, policy makers, and all those interested in the impacts of agriculture on water quality and ecosystem health. 

We want to emphasize that these scenario designs are not "prescriptions" for implementation in these particular watersheds.  Instead, the designed scenarios are intended to explore a range of choices in farming practices and likely outcomes of those choices. 

This research will provide baseline information that compares and contrasts the results of some different choices that could be made. We hope that this information will help guide local communities and landowners as they make their own decisions about farming and conservation practices they would like to implement; and agricultural policymakers as they decide what kinds of conservation practices they wish to support.