Assessment of site-specific agricultural Best Management Practices in the Upper East River watershed, Wisconsin, using a field-scale SWAT model Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2019 The Great Lakes “Priority Watershed” effort targeted the Upper East River watershed, a 116.5-km2 tributary watershed to Wisconsin's Green Bay, to reduce its sediment and nutrients loads from agricultural sources. A Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model was created to determine the effectiveness of agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The model was calibrated at the monthly time-step for flow, sediment, dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), total phosphorus (TP), nitrate, and total nitrogen (TN). Field- and watershed-scale sediment and nutrient reductions were calculated due to the implementation of 74 BMP combinations on dairy and cash grain rotations. Modeling results indicated that when multiple BMPs were placed on a field, especially those including filter strips and grassed waterways, sediment and nutrient loads generally were reduced more than single BMP implementation. The most effective in-field practice at reducing DRP and TP on dairy fields was a combination of 5 different BMPs: cover crops, crop rotation, nutrient management plan, reduced tillage, and a filter strip. Conservation cover was the single most effective practice at reducing sediment and nutrient yields. Sediment and nutrient loads decreased at the watershed scale as the quantity and coverage of BMPs increased. When all contracted BMPs were simulated at the watershed scale, sediment loads were reduced 2%, while TP, DRP, TN and nitrate loads were reduced 20%, 9%, 24%, and 17%, respectively. Modeling scenarios also indicated that over-winter manure storage was important to keep soluble nutrients out of waterways.

altmetric score

  • 3.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Merriman, K. R., Daggupati, P., Srinivasan, R., & Hayhurst, B.

citation count

  • 7

publication date

  • June 2019