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In JoVE (1)

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Articles by Catherine Kling in JoVE

 JoVE Biology

Spatial Multiobjective Optimization of Agricultural Conservation Practices using a SWAT Model and an Evolutionary Algorithm

1School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, 2Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Department of Economics, Iowa State University, 3Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina A&T University, 4Iowa Geological and Water Survey


JoVE 4009

This work demonstrates an integration of a water quality model with an optimization component utilizing evolutionary algorithms to solve for optimal (lowest-cost) placement of agricultural conservation practices for a specified set of water quality improvement objectives. The solutions are generated using a multi-objective approach, allowing for explicit quantification of tradeoffs.

Other articles by Catherine Kling on PubMed

Multiple Benefits of Carbon-friendly Agricultural Practices: Empirical Assessment of Conservation Tillage

This study empirically estimates the multiple benefits of a subsidy policy that would offer payments to farmers in return for the adoption of conservation tillage, and compares the outcomes of alternative targeting designs for such a policy. The least-cost incentive payment policy schemes are simulated for the State of Iowa by using the data for roughly 12,000 National Resource Inventory (NRI) points. We use an economic conservation tillage adoption model to evaluate the costs of adoption and a physical process simulation model (EPIC) to estimate the environmental benefits due to adoption at each of the NRI points. Two targeting options are considered. We assess the costs and environmental consequences of a practice-based policy instrument (which maximizes the acres of land in conservation tillage, regardless of its level of environmental benefits) and contrast it to a performance-based instrument (which yields the highest amount of environmental benefits per dollar spent). Carbon sequestration in agricultural soils, reduction of soil erosion by wind and water, and the reduction in nitrogen runoff are considered as possible targets for the performance-based instruments. We find that the practice-based instrument provides high proportions of the four benefits relative to the policies that target the benefits directly, especially at the higher policy budget levels. Similarly, we estimate that targeting one of the four benefits individually provides high percentages of the other benefits as compared with the amounts of the benefits obtainable if they were targeted directly.

Least-cost Control of Agricultural Nutrient Contributions to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone

In 2008, the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, measuring 20 720 km2, was one of the two largest reported since measurement of the zone began in 1985. The extent of the hypoxic zone is related to nitrogen and phosphorous loadings originating on agricultural fields in the upper Midwest. This study combines the tools of evolutionary computation with a water quality model and cost data to develop a trade-off frontier for the Upper Mississippi River Basin specifying the least cost of achieving nutrient reductions and the location of the agricultural conservation practices needed. The frontier allows policymakers and stakeholders to explicitly see the trade-offs between cost and nutrient reductions. For example, the cost of reducing annual nitrate-N loadings by 30% is estimated to be US$1.4 billion/year, with a concomitant 36% reduction in P and the cost of reducing annual P loadings by 30% is estimated to be US$370 million/year, with a concomitant 9% reduction in nitrate-N.

Potential Water Quality Changes Due to Corn Expansion in the Upper Mississippi River Basin

While biofuels may yield renewable fuel benefits, there could be downsides in terms of water quality and other environmental stressors, particularly if corn is relied upon exclusively as the feedstock. The consequences of increased corn production will depend importantly on where (and how) the additional corn is grown, which, in turn, depends on the characteristics of land and its associated profitability. Previous work has relied on rules of thumb for allocating land to increased acreage based on historical land use or other heuristics. Here, we advance our understanding of these phenomena by describing a modeling system that links an economics-driven land use model with a watershed-based water quality model for the Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB). This modeling system is used to assess the water quality changes due to increased corn acreage, which is associated with higher relative corn prices. We focus on six scenarios based on six realistic pairs of corn and soybean prices which correspond to a scale of decreasing soybean to corn price ratio. These price-driven land use changes provide estimates of the water quality effects that current biofuel policies may have in the UMRB. Our analysis can help evaluate the costs and environmental consequences associated with implementation strategies for the biofuel mandates of the new energy bill. The amounts of total N and P delivered to the outlet of the UMRB (located at Grafton, Illinois, USA) rise as corn production becomes more intensive in the region. Our results indicate that a 14.4% in corn acreage in the watershed due to corn intensification in the most economically profitable locations would result in a 5.4% increase in total nitrogen loads and in a 4.1% increase in total phosphorus loads at Grafton. Our most aggressive scenario, driven by high but not out of reach crop prices, results in about a 57% increase in corn acreage with a corresponding 18.5% increase in N and 12% increase in P. These are somewhat conservative increases in nutrients, compared to those of previous studies, likely due to our focus on cultivated cropland which is already heavily fertilized.

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