Posted: May 4, 2018

Nutrient pollution of water has often been described is a “wicked” problem, one that involves a complex, multidisciplinary approach to problem solving.

Center for Nutrient Solutions

Center for Nutrient Solutions

Over the last several years, researchers and stakeholders have been working together to explore the many factors involved in making smart watershed management decisions to meet nutrient reduction goals in local streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

This work will be featured in a one day conference on Tuesday, June 12 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg, 1150 Camp Hill Bypass, Camp Hill. Registration is free, but required.

The Center for Nutrient Solutions (CNS), funded by EPA and DEP and involving watershed scientists, agronomists, soil scientists, economics, ecologists, and law and policy experts from Penn State, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Montana State University, and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, has focused on four small pilot watersheds in the Chesapeake Bay: Spring Creek, Mahantango Creek and Conewago Creek, all in Pennsylvania, and Manokin River, on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

"The work in our pilot watersheds has allowed us to consider multiple interrelated factors to determine the most cost effective strategies for meeting nutrient reduction goals and local water quality improvements," notes Jim Shortle, Professor of Agricultural Economics and director of CNS. "Putting the right practices in the right places is key to achieving water quality goals with limited financial resources, all while helping farmers stay productive."

Stakeholders involved in nutrient management and watershed policy and practice have also been involved throughout the research project in what the team calls a "shared discovery" process. Representatives from DEP, EPA, USDA NRCS, Farm Bureau, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, State Conservation Commission, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Stroud Water Research Center, conservation districts, and others have been at the table throughout.

"One of our most fundamental findings is that shared discovery is critical to shaping feasible, realistic research designs and outcomes," said Matt Royer, AEC Director and lead of stakeholder engagement and outreach for the project. "Researchers and stakeholders learn from each other, even as the research design is being formulated, which makes for a richer project and hopefully more transferrable results that will be useful to watershed decision makers.

"We believe our lessons learned will be extremely valuable and timely as many groups and individuals across Pennsylvania are currently rolling up their sleeves together to develop the Phase 3 Watershed Implementation Plan to meet our Chesapeake Bay goals."

Join researchers on June 12 from Penn State, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, and Montana State University as they present their results and lessons learned for strategic watershed planning and implementation.

The conference is free but registration is required.