Irrigation Water Management

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Irrigation Water Management

To reduce nonpoint source pollution of surface waters caused by irrigation:

1. Operate the irrigation system so that the timing and amount of irrigation water applied match crop water needs. This will require, as a minimum: (a) the accurate measurement of soil-water depletion volume and the volume of irrigation water applied, and (b) uniform application of water.
2. When chemigation is used, include backflow preventers for wells, minimize the harmful amounts of chemigated waters that discharge from the edge of the field, and control deep percolation. In cases where chemigation is performed with furrow irrigation systems, a tailwater management system may be needed.

The following limitations and special conditions apply:

1. In some locations, irrigation return flows are subject to other water rights or are required to maintain stream flow. In these special cases, on-site reuse could be precluded and would not be considered part of the management measure for such locations.
2. By increasing the water use efficiency, the discharge volume from the system will usually be reduced. While the total pollutant load may be reduced somewhat, there is the potential for an increase in the concentration of pollutants in the discharge. In these special cases, where living resources or human health may be adversely affected and where other management measures (nutrients and pesticides) do not reduce concentrations in the discharge, increasing water use efficiency would not be considered part of the management measure.
3. In some irrigation districts, the time interval between the order for and the delivery of irrigation water to the farm may limit the irrigator’s ability to achieve the maximum on-farm application efficiencies that are otherwise possible.
4. In some locations, leaching is necessary to control salt in the soil profile. Leaching for salt control should be limited to the leaching requirement for the root zone.
5. Where leakage from delivery systems or return flows supports wetlands or wildlife refuges, it may be preferable to modify the system to achieve a high level of efficiency and then divert the “saved water” to the wetland or wildlife refuge. This will improve the quality of water delivered to wetlands or wildlife refuges by preventing the introduction of pollutants from irrigated lands to such diverted water.
6. In some locations, sprinkler irrigation is used for frost or freeze protection, or for crop cooling. In these special cases, applications should be limited to the amount necessary for crop protection, and applied water should remain on-site.

1. Applicability

This management measure is intended to be applied by States to activities on irrigated lands, including agricultural crop and pasture land (except for isolated fields of less than 10 acres in size that are not contiguous to other irrigated lands); orchard land; specialty cropland; and nursery cropland. Those landowners already practicing effective irrigation management in conformity with the irrigation water management measure may not need to purchase additional devices to measure soil-water depletion or the volume of irrigation water applied, and may not need to expend additional labor resources to manage the irrigation system. Under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, States are subject to a number of requirements as they develop coastal nonpoint programs in conformity with this measure and will have some flexibility in doing so. The application of management measures by States is described more fully in Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Program Development and Approval Guidance, published jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

2. Description

The goal of this management measure is to reduce nonpoint source pollution of surface waters caused by irrigation. For the purposes of this management measure, “harmful amounts” are those amounts that pose a significant risk to aquatic plant or animal life, ecosystem health, human health, or agricultural or industrial uses of the water.

A problem associated with irrigation is the movement of pollutants from the land into ground or surface water. This movement of pollutants is affected by the pathways taken by applied water and precipitation (Figure 2-15); the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the irrigated land; the type of irrigation system used; crop type; the degree to which erosion and sediment control, nutrient management, and pesticide management are employed; and the management of the irrigation system (Figure 2-16).

Return flows, runoff, and leachate from irrigated lands may transport the following types of pollutants:

* Sediment and particulate organic solids;
* Particulate-bound nutrients, chemicals, and metals, such as phosphorus, organic nitrogen, a portion of applied pesticides, and a portion of the metals applied with some organic wastes;
* Soluble nutrients, such as nitrogen, soluble phosphorus, a portion of the applied pesticides, soluble metals, salts, and many other major and minor nutrients; and
* Bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

Transport of irrigation water from the source of supply to the irrigated field via open canals and laterals can be a source of water loss if the canals and laterals are not lined. Water is also transported through the lower ends of canals and laterals because of the flow-through requirements to maintain water levels in them. In many soils, unlined canals and laterals lose water via seepage in bottom and side walls. Seepage water either moves into the ground water through infiltration or forms wet areas near the canal or lateral. This water will carry with it any soluble pollutants in the soil, thereby creating the potential for pollution of ground or surface water.

Since irrigation is a consumptive use of water, any pollutants in the source waters that are not consumed by the crop (e.g., salts, pesticides, nutrients) can be concentrated in the soil, concentrated in the leachate or seepage, or concentrated in the runoff or return flow from the system. Salts that concentrate in the soil profile must be removed for sustained crop production.

For additional information regarding the problems caused by these pollutants, see Section I.F of this chapter.

Application of this management measure will reduce the waste of irrigation water, improve the water use efficiency, and reduce the total pollutant discharge from an irrigation system. It is not the intent of this management measure to require the replacement of major components of an irrigation system. Instead, the expectation is that components to manage the timing and amount of water applied will be provided where needed, and that special precautions (i.e., backflow preventers, prevent tailwater, and control deep percolation) will be taken when chemigation is used.

Irrigation scheduling is the use of water management strategies to prevent over-application of water while minimizing yield loss due to water shortage or drought stress (Evans et al., 1991d). Irrigation scheduling will ensure that water is applied to the crop when needed and in the amount needed. Effective scheduling requires knowledge of the following factors (Evans et al., 1991c; Evans et al., 1991d):

* Soil properties;
* Soil-water relationships and status;
* Type of crop and its sensitivity to drought stress;
* The stage of crop development;
* The status of crop stress;
* The potential yield reduction if the crop remains in a stressed condition;
* Availability of a water supply; and
* Climatic factors such as rainfall and temperature.

Much of the above information can be found in Soil Conservation Service soil surveys and Extension Service literature. However, all information should be site-specific and verified in the field.

There are three ways to determine when irrigation is needed (Evans et al., 1991d):

* Measuring soil water;
* Estimating soil water using an accounting approach; and
* Measuring crop stress.

Soil water can be measured using a range of devices (Evans et al., 1991b), including tensiometers, which measure soil water suction (Figure 2-17); electrical resistance blocks (also called gypsum blocks or moisture blocks), which measure electrical resistance that is related to soil water by a calibration curve (Figure 2-18); neutron probes, which directly measure soil water; Phene cells, which are used to estimate soil water based on the relationship of heat conductance to soil water content; and time domain reflectometers, which can be used to estimate soil water based on the time it takes for an electromagnetic pulse to pass through the soil. The appropriate device for any given situation is a function of the acreage of irrigated land, soils, cost, and other site-specific factors.

Accounting approaches estimate the quantity of soil water remaining in the effective root zone and can be simple or complex. In essence, daily water inputs and outputs are measured or estimated to determine the depletion volume. Irrigation is typically scheduled when the allowable depletion volume is nearly reached.

Once the decision to irrigate has been made, it is important to determine the amount of water to apply. Irrigation needs are a function of the soil water depletion volume in the effective root zone, the rate at which the crop uses water (Figure 2-19), and climatic factors. Accurate measurements of the amount of water applied are essential to maximizing irrigation efficiency. The quantity of water applied can be measured by such devices as a totalizing flow meter that is installed in the delivery pipe. If water is supplied by ditch or canal, weirs or flumes in the ditch can be used to measure the rate of flow.

Deep percolation can be greatly reduced by limiting the amount of applied water to the amount that can be stored in the plant root zone. The deep percolation that is necessary for salt management can be accomplished with a sprinkler system by using longer sets or very slow pivot speeds or by applying water during the non-growing season.

Reducing overall water use in irrigation will allow more water for stream flow control and will increase flow for diversion to marshes, wetlands, or other environmental uses. If the source is ground water, reducing overall use will maintain higher ground-water levels, which could be important for maintaining base flow in nearby streams. Reduced water diversion will reduce the salt or pollutant load brought into the irrigation system, thereby reducing the volume of these pollutants that must be managed or discharged from the system.

Although this management measure does not require the replacement of major components of an irrigation system, such changes can sometimes result in greater pollution prevention. Consequently, the following is a broader discussion of the types of design and operational aspects of the overall irrigation system that could be addressed to provide additional control of nonpoint source pollution beyond that which is required by this management measure. Overall, five basic aspects of the irrigation system can be addressed:

1. Irrigation scheduling;
2. Efficient application of irrigation water;
3. Efficient transport of irrigation water;
4. Use of runoff or tailwater; and
5. Management of drainage water.

This management measure addresses irrigation scheduling, efficient application, and the control of tailwater when chemigation is used. The efficient transport of irrigation water, the use of runoff or tailwater, and the management of drainage water are additional considerations.

Although not a required element of this management measure, the seepage losses associated with canals and laterals can be reduced by lining the canals and laterals, or can be eliminated by conversion from open canals and laterals to pipelines. Flow-through losses will not be changed by canal or lateral lining, but can be eliminated or greatly reduced by conversion to pipelines.

Surface irrigation systems are usually designed to have a percentage (up to 30 percent) of the applied water lost as tailwater. This tailwater should be managed with a tailwater recovery system, but such a system is not required as a component of this management measure unless chemigation is practiced. Tailwater recovery systems usually include a system of ditches or berms to direct water from the end of the field to a small storage structure. Tailwater is stored until it can be either pumped back to the head end of the field and reused or delivered to additional irrigated land. In some locations, there may be downstream water rights that are dependent upon tailwater, or tailwater may be used to maintain flow in streams. These requirements may take legal precedence over the reuse of tailwater.

Well-designed and managed irrigation systems remove runoff and leachate efficiently; control deep percolation; and minimize erosion from applied water, thereby reducing adverse impacts on surface water and ground water. If a tailwater recovery system is used, it should be designed to allow storm runoff to flow through the system without damage. Additional surface drainage structures such as filter strips, field drainage ditches, subsurface drains, and water table control may also be used to control runoff and leachate if site conditions warrant their use. Sprinkler systems will usually require design and installation of a system to remove and manage storm runoff.

A properly designed and operated sprinkler irrigation system should have a uniform distribution pattern. The volume of water applied can be changed by changing the total time the sprinkler runs; by changing the pressure at which the sprinkler operates; or, in the case of a center pivot, by adjusting the speed of travel of the system. There should be no irrigation runoff or tailwater from most well-designed and well-operated sprinkler systems.

The type of irrigation system used will dictate which practices can be employed to improve water use efficiency and to obtain the most benefit from scheduling. Flood systems will generally infiltrate more water at the upper end of the field than at the lower end because water is applied to the upper end of the field first and remains on that portion of the field longer. This will cause the upper end of the field to have greater deep percolation losses than the lower end. Although not required as a component of this management measure, this situation can sometimes be improved by changing slope throughout the length of the field. This type of change may not be practical or affordable in many cases. For example, furrow length can be reduced by cutting the field in half and applying water in the middle of the field. This will require more pipe or ditches to distribute the water across the middle of the field.

3. Management Measure Selection

This management measure was selected based on an evaluation of available information that documents the beneficial effects of improved irrigation management (see Section II.F.4 of this chapter). Specifically, the available information shows that irrigation efficiencies can be improved with scheduling that is based on knowledge of water needs and measurement of applied water. Improved irrigation efficiency can result in the reduction or elimination of runoff and return flows, as well as the control of deep percolation. Secondly, backflow preventers can be used to protect wells from chemicals used in chemigation. In addition, tailwater prevention, or tailwater management where necessary, is effective in reducing the discharge of soluble and particulate pollutants to receiving waters.

By reducing the volume of water applied to agricultural lands, pollutant loads are also reduced. Less interaction between irrigation water and agricultural land will generally result in less pollutant transport from the land and less leaching of pollutants to ground water.

The practices that can be used to implement this measure on a given site are commonly used and are recommended by SCS for general use on irrigated lands. By designing the measure using the appropriate mix of structural and management practices for a given site, there is no undue economic impact on the operator. Many of the practices that can be used to implement this measure (e.g., water-measuring devices, tailwater recovery systems, and backflow preventers) may already be required by State or local rules or may otherwise be in use on irrigated fields. Since many irrigators may already be using systems that satisfy or partly satisfy the intent of the management measure, the only action that may be necessary will be to determine the effectiveness of the existing practices and add additional practices, if needed.

4. Effectiveness Information

Following is information on pollution reductions that can be expected from installation of the management practices outlined within this management measure.

In a review of a wide range of agricultural control practices, EPA (1982) determined that increased use of call periods, on-demand water ordering, irrigation scheduling, and flow measurement and control would all result in decreased losses of salts, sediment, and nutrients (Table 2-28 (25k)). Various alterations to existing furrow irrigation systems were also determined to be beneficial to water quality, as were tailwater management and seepage control.

Logan (1990) reported that chemical backsiphon devices are highly effective at preventing the introduction of pesticides and nitrogen to ground water. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE) specifies safety devices for chemigation that will prevent the pollution of a water supply used solely for irrigation (ASAE, 1989).

Properly designed sprinkler irrigation systems will have little runoff (Boyle Engineering Corp., 1986). Furrow irrigation and border check or border strip irrigation systems typically produce tailwater, and tailwater recovery systems may be needed to manage tailwater losses (Boyle Engineering Corp., 1986). Tailwater can be managed by applying the water to additional fields, by treating and releasing the tailwater, or by reapplying the tailwater to upslope cropland.

The Rock Creek Rural Clean Water Program (RCWP) project in Idaho is the source of much information regarding the benefits of irrigation water management (USDA, 1991). All crops in the Rock Creek watershed are irrigated with water diverted from the Snake River and delivered through a network of canals and laterals. The combined implementation of irrigation management practices, sediment control practices, and conservation tillage has resulted in measured reductions in suspended sediment loadings ranging from 61 percent to 95 percent at six stations in Rock Creek (1981-1988). Similarly, 8 of 10 sub-basins showed reductions in suspended sediment loadings over the same time period. The sediment removal efficiencies of selected practices used in the project are given in Table 2-29.

In California it is expected that drip irrigation will have the greatest irrigation efficiency of those irrigation systems evaluated, whereas conventional furrow irrigation will have the lowest irrigation efficiency and greatest runoff fraction (Table 2-30). Tailwater recovery irrigation systems are expected to have the greatest percolation rate. Plot studies in California have shown that in-season irrigation efficiencies for drip irrigation and Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) are greater than those for improved furrow and conventional furrow systems (Table 2-31). LEPA is a linear move sprinkler system in which the sprinkler heads have been removed and replaced with tubes that supply water to individual furrows (Univ. Calif., 1988). Dikes are placed in the furrows to prevent water flow and reduce soil effects on infiltrated water uniformity.

Mielke et al. (1981) studied the effects of tillage practice and type of center pivot irrigation on herbicide (atrazine and alachlor) losses in runoff and sediment. Study results clearly show that, for each of three tillage practices studied, low-pressure spray nozzles result in much greater herbicide loss in runoff than either high-pressure or low-pressure impact heads.

5. Irrigation Water Management Practices

As discussed more fully at the beginning of this chapter and in Chapter 1, the following practices are described for illustrative purposes only. State programs need not require implementation of these practices. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measure set forth above generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the source, location, and climate. The practices set forth below have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully apply to achieve the management measure described above.

The U.S. Soil Conservation Service practice number and definition are provided for each management practice, where available. Also included in italics are SCS statements describing the effect each practice has on water quality (USDA-SCS, 1988).

Irrigation Scheduling Practices

Proper irrigation scheduling is a key element in irrigation water management. Irrigation scheduling should be based on knowing the daily water use of the crop, the water-holding capacity of the soil, and the lower limit of soil moisture for each crop and soil, and measuring the amount of water applied to the field. Also, natural precipitation should be considered and adjustments made in the scheduled irrigations.

Practices that may be used to accomplish proper irrigation scheduling are:

* a. Irrigation water management (449): Determining and controlling the rate, amount, and timing of irrigation water in a planned and efficient manner.

Management of the irrigation system should provide the control needed to minimize losses of water, and yields of sediment and sediment attached and dissolved substances, such as plant nutrients and herbicides, from the system. Poor management may allow the loss of dissolved substances from the irrigation system to surface or ground water. Good management may reduce saline percolation from geologic origins. Returns to the surface water system would increase downstream water temperature.

The purpose is to effectively use available irrigation water supply in managing and controlling the moisture environment of crops to promote the desired crop response, to minimize soil erosion and loss of plant nutrients, to control undesirable water loss, and to protect water quality.

To achieve this purpose the irrigator must have knowledge of (1) how to determine when irrigation water should be applied, based on the rate of water used by crops and on the stages of plant growth; (2) how to measure or estimate the amount of water required for each irrigation, including the leaching needs; (3) the normal time needed for the soil to absorb the required amount of water and how to detect changes in intake rate; (4) how to adjust water stream size, application rate, or irrigation time to compensate for changes in such factors as intake rate or the amount of irrigation runoff from an area; (5) how to recognize erosion caused by irrigation; (6) how to estimate the amount of irrigation runoff from an area; and (7) how to evaluate the uniformity of water application.

Tools to assist in achieving proper irrigation scheduling:

* b. Water-measuring device: An irrigation water meter, flume, weir, or other water-measuring device installed in a pipeline or ditch.

The measuring device must be installed between the point of diversion and water distribution system used on the field. The device should provide a means to measure the rate of flow. Total water volume used may then be calculated using rate of flow and time, or read directly, if a totalizing meter is used.

The purpose is to provide the irrigator the rate of flow and/or application of water, and the total amount of water applied to the field with each irrigation.

* c. Soil and crop water use data: From soils information the available water-holding capacity of the soil can be determined along with the amount of water that the plant can extract from the soil before additional irrigation is needed.

Water use information for various crops can be obtained from various USDA publications.

The purpose is to allow the water user to estimate the amount of available water remaining in the root zone at any time, thereby indicating when the next irrigation should be scheduled and the amount of water needed. Methods to measure or estimate the soil moisture should be employed, especially for high-value crops or where the water-holding capacity of the soil is low.

Practices for Efficient Irrigation Water Application

Irrigation water should be applied in a manner that ensures efficient use and distribution, minimizes runoff or deep percolation, and eliminates soil erosion.

The method of irrigation employed will vary with the type of crop grown, the topography, and soils. There are several systems that, when properly designed and operated, can be used as follows:

* d. Irrigation system, drip or trickle (441): A planned irrigation system in which all necessary facilities are installed for efficiently applying water directly to the root zone of plants by means of applicators (orifices, emitters, porous tubing, or perforated pipe) operated under low pressure (Figure 2-20). The applicators can be placed on or below the surface of the ground (Figure 2-21).

Surface water quality may not be significantly affected by transported substances because runoff is largely controlled by the system components (practices). Chemical applications may be applied through the system. Reduction of runoff will result in less sediment and chemical losses from the field during irrigation. If excessive, local, deep percolation should occur, a chemical hazard may exist to shallow ground water or to areas where geologic materials provide easy access to the aquifer.

* e. Irrigation system, sprinkler (442): A planned irrigation system in which all necessary facilities are installed for efficiently applying water by means of perforated pipes or nozzles operated under pressure.

Proper irrigation management controls runoff and prevents downstream surface water deterioration from sediment and sediment attached substances. Over irrigation through poor management can produce impaired water quality in runoff as well as ground water through increased percolation. Chemigation with this system allows the operator the opportunity to mange nutrients, wastewater and pesticides. For example, nutrients applied in several incremental applications based on the plant needs may reduce ground water contamination considerably, compared to one application during planting. Poor management may cause pollution of surface and ground water. Pesticide drift from chemigation may also be hazardous to vegetation, animals, and surface water resources. Appropriate safety equipment, operation and maintenance of the system is needed with chemigation to prevent accidental environmental pollution or backflows to water sources.

* f. Irrigation system, surface and subsurface (443): A planned irrigation system in which all necessary water control structures have been installed for efficient distribution of irrigation water by surface means, such as furrows, borders, contour levees, or contour ditches, or by subsurface means.

Operation and management of the irrigation system in a manner which allows little or no runoff may allow small yields of sediment or sediment-attached substances to downstream waters. Pollutants may increase if irrigation water management is not adequate. Ground water quality from mobile, dissolved chemicals may also be a hazard if irrigation water management does not prevent deep percolation. Subsurface irrigation that requires the drainage and removal of excess water from the field may discharge increased amounts of dissolved substances such as nutrients or other salts to surface water. Temperatures of downstream water courses that receive runoff waters may be increased. Temperatures of downstream waters might be decreased with subsurface systems when excess water is being pumped from the field to lower the water table. Downstream temperatures should not be affected by subsurface irrigation during summer months if lowering the water table is not required. Improved aquatic habitat may occur if runoff or seepage occurs from surface systems or from pumping to lower the water table in subsurface systems.

* g. Irrigation field ditch (388): A permanent irrigation ditch constructed to convey water from the source of supply to a field or fields in a farm distribution system.

The standard for this practice applies to open channels and elevated ditches of 25 ft3/second or less capacity formed in and with earth materials.

Irrigation field ditches typically carry irrigation water from the source of supplying to a field or fields. Salinity changes may occur in both the soil and water. This will depend on the irrigation water quality, the level of water management, and the geologic materials of the area. The quality of ground and surface water may be altered depending on environmental conditions. Water lost from the irrigation system to downstream runoff may contain dissolved substances, sediment, and sediment-attached substances that may degrade water quality and increase water temperature. This practice may make water available for wildlife, but may not significantly increase habitat.

* h. Irrigation land leveling (464): Reshaping the surface of land to be irrigated to planned grades.

The effects of this practice depend on the level of irrigation water management. If plant root zone soil water is properly managed, then quality decreases of surface and ground water may be avoided. Under poor management, ground and surface water quality may deteriorate. Deep percolation and recharge with poor quality water may lower aquifer quality. Land leveling may minimize erosion and when runoff occurs concurrent sediment yield reduction. Poor management may cause an increase in salinity of soil, ground and surface waters. High efficiency surface irrigation is more probable when earth moving elevations are laser controlled.

Practices for Efficient Irrigation Water Transport

Irrigation water transportation systems that move water from the source of supply to the irrigation system should be designed and managed in a manner that minimizes evaporation, seepage, and flow-through water losses from canals and ditches. Delivery and timing need to be flexible enough to meet varying plant water needs throughout the growing season.

Transporting irrigation water from the source of supply to the field irrigation system can be a significant source of water loss and cause of degradation of both surface water and ground water. Losses during transmission include seepage from canals and ditches, evaporation from canals and ditches, and flow-through water. The primary water quality concern is the development of saline seeps below the canals and ditches and the discharge of saline waters. Another water quality concern is the potential for erosion caused by the discharge of flow-through water. Practices that are used to ensure proper transportation of irrigation water from the source of supply to the field irrigation system can be found in the USDA-SCS Handbook of Practices, and include: irrigation water conveyance, ditch and canal lining (428); irrigation water conveyance, pipeline (430); and structure for water control (587).

Practices for Utilization of Runoff Water or Tailwater

The utilization of runoff water to provide additional irrigation or to reduce the amount of water diverted increases the efficiency of use of irrigation water. For surface irrigation systems that require runoff or tailwater as part of the design and operation, a tailwater management practice needs to be installed and used. The practice is described as follows:

* i. Irrigation system, tailwater recovery (447): A facility to collect, store, and transport irrigation tailwater for reuse in the farm irrigation distribution system.

The reservoir will trap sediment and sediment attached substances from runoff waters. Sediment and chemicals will accumulate in the collection facility by entrapping which would decrease downstream yields of these substances.

Salts, soluble nutrients, and soluble pesticides will be collected with the runoff and will not be released to surface waters. Recovered irrigation water with high salt and/or metal content will ultimately have to be disposed of in an environmentally safe manner and location. Disposal of these waters should be part of the overall management plan. Although some ground water recharge may occur, little if any pollution hazard is usually expected.

Practices for Drainage Water Management

Drainage water from an irrigation system should be managed to reduce deep percolation, move tailwater to the reuse system, reduce erosion, and help control adverse impacts on surface water and groundwater. A total drainage system should be an integral part of the planning and design of an efficient irrigation system. This may not be necessary for those soils that have sufficient natural drainage abilities.

There are several practices to accomplish this:

* j. Filter strip (393): A strip or area of vegetation for removing sediment, organic matter, and other pollutants from runoff and waste water.

Filter strips for sediment and related pollutants meeting minimum requirements may trap the coarser grained sediment. They may not filter out soluble or suspended fine-grained materials. When a storm causes runoff in excess of the design runoff, the filter may be flooded and may cause large loads of pollutants to be released to the surface water. This type of filter requires high maintenance and has a relative short service life and is effective only as long as the flow through the filter is shallow sheet flow.

Filter strips for runoff form concentrated livestock areas may trap organic material, solids, materials which become adsorbed to the vegetation or the soil within the filter. Often they will not filter out soluble materials. This type of filter is often wet and is difficult to maintain.

Filter strips for controlled overland flow treatment of liquid wastes may effectively filter out pollutants. The filter must be properly managed and maintained, including the proper resting time. Filter strips on forest land may trap coarse sediment, timbering debris, and other deleterious material being transported by runoff. This may improve the quality of surface water and has little effect on soluble material in runoff or on the quality of ground water.

All types of filters may reduce erosion on the area on which they are constructed. Filter strips trap solids from the runoff flowing in sheet flow through the filter. Coarse-grained and fibrous materials are filtered more efficiently than fine-grained and soluble substances. Filter strips work for design conditions, but when flooded or overloaded they may release a slug load of pollutants into the surface water.

* k. Surface drainage field ditch (607): A graded ditch for collecting excess water in a field.

From erosive fields, this practice may increase the yields of sediment and sediment-attached substances to downstream water courses because of an increase in runoff. In other fields, the location of the ditches may cause a reduction in sheet and rill erosion and ephemeral gully erosion. Drainage of high salinity areas may raise salinity levels temporarily in receiving waters. Areas of soils with high salinity that are drained by the ditches may increase receiving waters. Phosphorus loads, resulting from this practice may increase eutrophication problems in ponded receiving waters. Water temperature changes will probably not be significant. Upland wildlife habitat may be improved or increased although the habitat formed by standing water and wet areas may be decreased.

* l. Subsurface drain (606): A conduit, such as corrugated plastic tile, or pipe, installed beneath the ground surface to collect and/or convey drainage water.

Soil water outletted to surface water courses by this practice may be low in concentrations of sediment and sediment-adsorbed substances and that may improve stream water quality. Sometimes the drained soil water is high in the concentration of nitrates and other dissolved substances and drinking water standards may be exceeded. If drainage water that is high in dissolved substances is able to recharge ground water, the aquifer quality may become impaired. Stream water temperatures may be reduced by water drainage discharge. Aquatic habitat may be altered or enhanced with the increased cooler water temperatures.

* m. Water table control (641): Water table control through proper use of subsurface drains, water control structures, and water conveyance facilities for the efficient removal of drainage water and distribution of irrigation water.

The water table control practice reduces runoff, therefore downstream sediment and sediment-attached substances yields will be reduced. When drainage is increased, the dissolved substances in the soil water will be discharged to receiving water and the quality of water reduced. Maintaining a high water table, especially during the nongrowing season, will allow denitrification to occur and reduce the nitrate content of surface and ground by as much as 75 percent. The use of this practice for salinity control can increase the dissolved substance loading of downstream waters while decreasing the salinity of the soil. Installation of this practice may create temporary erosion and sediment yield hazards but the completed practice will lower erosion and sedimentation levels. The effect of the water table control of this practice on downstream wildlife communities may vary with the purpose and management of the water in the system.

* n. Controlled drainage (335): Control of surface and subsurface water through use of drainage facilities and water control structures.

The purpose is to conserve water and maintain optimum soil moisture to (1) store and manage infiltrated rainfall for more efficient crop production; (2) improve surface water quality by increasing infiltration, thereby reducing runoff, which may carry sediment and undesirable chemicals; (3) reduce nitrates in the drainage water by enhancing conditions for denitrification; (4) reduce subsidence and wind erosion of organic soils; (5) hold water in channels in forest areas to act as ground fire breaks; and (6) provide water for wildlife and a resting and feeding place for waterfowl.

Practices for Backflow Prevention

* o. The American Society of Agricultural Engineers recommends, in standard EP409, safety devices to prevent backflow when injecting liquid chemicals into irrigation systems (ASAE Standards, 1989).

The process of supplying fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, nematicides, and other chemicals through irrigation systems is known as chemigation. A backflow prevention system will “prevent chemical backflow to the water source” in cases when the irrigation pump shuts down (ASAE, 1989).

Three factors an operator must take into account when selecting a backflow prevention system are the characteristics of the chemical that can backflow, the water source, and the geometry of the irrigation system. Areas of concern include whether injected material is toxic and whether there can be backpressure or backsiphonage (ASAE, 1989; USEPA, 1989b).

Several different systems used as backflow preventers are:

1. Air gap. A physical separation in the pipeline resulting in a loss of water pressure. Effective at end of line service where reservoirs or storage tanks are desired.
2. Check valve with vacuum relief and low pressure drain. Primarily used as an antisiphon device (Figure 2-22).
3. Double check valve. Consists of two single check valves coupled within one body and can handle both backsiphonage and backpressure.
4. Reduced pressure principle backflow preventer. This device can be used for both backsiphonage and backpressure. It consists of a pressure differential relief valve located between two independently acting check valves.
5. Atmospheric vacuum breaker. Used mainly in lawn and turf irrigation systems that are connected to potable water supplies. This system cannot be installed where backpressure persists and can be used only to prevent backsiphonage.

6. Cost Information

A cost of $10 per irrigated acre is estimated to cover investments in flow meters, tensiometers, and soil moisture probes (USEPA, 1992; Evans, 1992). Information from North Carolina indicates that the cost of devices to measure soil water ranges from $3 to $4,500 (Table 2-32). Gypsum blocks and tensiometers are the two most commonly used devices.

For quarter-section center pivot systems, backflow prevention devices cost about $416 per well (Stolzenburg, 1992). This cost (1992 dollars) is for (1) an 8-inch, 2-foot-long unit with a check valve inside ($386) and (2) a one-way injection point valve ($30). Assuming that each well will provide about 800-1,000 gallons per minute, approximately 130 acres will be served by each well. The cost for backflow prevention for center pivot systems then becomes approximately $3.20 per acre. In South Dakota, the cost for an 8-inch standard check valve is about $300, while an 8-inch check valve with inspection points and vacuum release costs about $800 (Goodman, 1992). The latter are required by State law. For quarter-section center pivot systems, the cost for standard check valves ranges from about $1.88 per acre (corners irrigated, covering 160 acres) to $2.31 per acre (circular pattern, covering about 130 acres).

Tailwater can be prevented in sprinkler irrigation systems through effective irrigation scheduling, but may need to be managed in furrow systems. The reuse of tailwater downslope on adjacent fields is a low-cost alternative to tailwater recovery and upslope reuse (Boyle Engineering Corp., 1986). Tailwater recovery systems require a suitable drainage water receiving facility such as a sump or a holding pond, and a pump and pipelines to return the tailwater for reapplication (Boyle Engineering Corp., 1986). The cost to install a tailwater recovery system was about $125/acre in California (California State Water Resources Control Board, 1987) and $97.00/acre in the Long Pine Creek, Nebraska, RCWP (Hermsmeyer, 1991).

The cost to install irrigation water conservation systems (ASCS practice WC4) for the primary purpose of water conservation in the 33 States that used the practice was about $86.00 per acre served in 1991 (USDA-ASCS, 1992b). Practice WC4 increased the average irrigation system efficiency from 48 percent to 64 percent at an amortized cost of $9.47 per acre foot of water conserved. The components of practice WC4 are critical area planting, canal or lateral, structure for water control, field ditch, sediment basin, grassed waterway or outlet, land leveling, water conveyance ditch and canal lining, water conveyance pipeline, trickle (drip) system, sprinkler system, surface and subsurface system, tailwater recovery, land smoothing, pit or regulation reservoir, subsurface drainage for salinity, and toxic salt reduction. When installed for the primary purpose of water quality, the average installation cost for WC4 was about $52 per acre served. For erosion control, practice WC4 averaged approximately $57 per acre served. Specific cost data for each component of WC4 are not available.

Water management systems for pollution control, practice SP35, cost about $26 per acre served when installed for the primary purpose of water quality (USDA-ASCS, 1992b). When installed for erosion control, SP35 costs about $19 per acre served. The components of SP35 are grass and legumes in rotation, underground outlets, land smoothing, structures for water control, subsurface drains, field ditches, mains or laterals, and toxic salt reduction.

The design lifetimes for a range of salt load reduction measures are presented in Table 2-33 (USDA-ASCS, 1988).

Grazing Management

1. Protect range, pasture and other grazing lands:
2. By implementing one or more of the following to protect sensitive areas (such as streambanks, wetlands, estuaries, ponds, lake shores, and riparian zones):
3. Exclude livestock,
4. Provide stream crossings or hardened watering access for drinking,
5. Provide alternative drinking water locations,
6. Locate salt and additional shade, if needed, away from sensitive areas, or
7. Use improved grazing management (e.g., herding)
8. to reduce the physical disturbance and reduce direct loading of animal waste and sediment caused by livestock; and
9. By achieving either of the following on all range, pasture, and other grazing lands not addressed under (1):
10. Implement the range and pasture components of a Conservation Management System (CMS) as defined in the Field Office Technical Guide of the USDA-SCS (see Appendix 2A of this chapter) by applying the progressive planning approach of the USDA-Soil Conservation Service (SCS) to reduce erosion, or
11. Maintain range, pasture, and other grazing lands in accordance with activity plans established by either the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior or the Forest Service of USDA.

1. Applicability

The management measure is intended to be applied by States to activities on range, irrigated and nonirrigated pasture, and other grazing lands used by domestic livestock. Under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, States are subject to a number of requirements as they develop coastal nonpoint programs in conformity with this measure and will have some flexibility in doing so. The application of management measures by States is described more fully in Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Program Development and Approval Guidance, published jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Range is those lands on which the native vegetation (climax or natural potential plant community) is predominantly grasses, grasslike plants, forbs, or shrubs suitable for grazing or browsing use. Range includes natural grassland, savannas, many wetlands, some deserts, tundra, and certain forb and shrub communities. Pastures are those lands that are primarily used for the production of adapted, domesticated forage plants for livestock. Other grazing lands include woodlands, native pastures, and croplands producing forages.

The major differences between range and pasture are the kind of vegetation and level of management that each land area receives. In most cases, range supports native vegetation that is extensively managed through the control of livestock rather than by agronomy practices, such as fertilization, mowing, irrigation, etc. Range also includes areas that have been seeded to introduced species (e.g., crested wheatgrass), but which are extensively managed like native range. Pastures are represented by those lands that have been seeded, usually to introduced species (e.g., tall fescue) or in some cases to native plants (e.g., switchgrass), and which are intensively managed using agronomy practices and control of livestock.

2. Description

The focus of the grazing management measure is on the riparian zone, yet the control of erosion from range, pasture, and other grazing lands above the riparian zone is also encouraged. Application of this management measure will reduce the physical disturbance to sensitive areas and reduce the discharge of sediment, animal waste, nutrients, and chemicals to surface waters. For information regarding potential problems caused by grazing, see Sections I.F.2 and I.F.6 of this chapter.

The key options to consider (all are not required by this management measure) when developing a comprehensive grazing management approach at a particular location include the development of one or more of the following:

* Grazing management systems. These systems ensure proper grazing use through:
* Grazing frequency (includes complete rest);
* Livestock stocking rates;
* Livestock distribution;
* Timing (season of forage use) and duration of each rest and grazing period;
* Livestock kind and class; and
* Forage use allocation for livestock and wildlife.
* Proper water and salt supplement facilities.
* Livestock access control.
* Range or pasture rehabilitation.

For any grazing management system to work, it must be tailored to fit the needs of the vegetation, terrain, class or kind of livestock, and particular operation involved.

For both pasture and range, areas should be provided for livestock watering, salting, and shade that are located away from streambanks and riparian zones where necessary and practical. This will be accomplished by managing livestock grazing and providing facilities for water, salt, and shade as needed.

Special attention must be given to grazing management in riparian and wetland areas if management measure objectives are to be met. For purposes of this guidance, riparian areas are defined (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986; Lowrance et al., 1988) as:

Vegetated ecosystems along a waterbody through which energy, materials, and water pass. Riparian areas characteristically have a high water table and are subject to periodic flooding and influence from the adjacent waterbody.

The health of the riparian system, and thus the quality of water, is dependent on the use, management, and condition of the related uplands. Therefore, the proper management of riparian and wetland ecosystems will involve the correct management of livestock grazing and other land uses in the total watershed.

Conservation management systems (CMS) include any combination of conservation practices and management that achieves a level of treatment of the five natural resources (i.e., soil, water, air, plants, and animals) that satisfies criteria contained in the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG), such as a resource management system (RMS) or an acceptable management system (AMS). These criteria are developed at the State level, with concurrence by the appropriate SCS National Technical Center (NTC). The criteria are then applied in the provision of field office technical assistance, under the direction of the District Conservationist of SCS. In-state coordination of FOTG use is provided by the Area Conservationist and State Conservationist of SCS.

The range and pasture components of a CMS address erosion control, proper grazing, adequate pasture stand density, and range condition. National (minimum) criteria pertaining to range and pasture under an RMS are applied to achieve environmental objectives, conserve natural resources, and prevent soil degradation.

The practical limits of resource protection under a CMS within any given area are determined through the application of national social, cultural, and economic criteria. With respect to economics, landowners will not be required to implement an RMS if the system is generally too costly for landowners. Instead, landowners may be required to implement a less costly, and less protective, AMS. In some cases, landowner constraints may be such that an RMS or AMS cannot be implemented quickly. In these situations, a “progressive planning approach” may be used to ultimately achieve planning and application of an RMS or AMS. Progressive planning is the incremental process of building a plan on part or all of the planning unit over a period of time. For additional details regarding CMS, RMS, and AMS, see Appendix 2A of this chapter.

3. Management Measure Selection

This management measure was selected based on an evaluation of available information that documents the beneficial effects of improved grazing management (see “Effectiveness Information” below). Specifically, the available information shows that (1) aquatic habitat conditions are improved with proper livestock management; (2) pollution from livestock is decreased by reducing the amount of time spent in the stream through the provision of supplemental water; and (3) sediment delivery is reduced through the proper use of vegetation, streambank protection, planned grazing systems, and livestock management.

4. Effectiveness Information

Hubert et al. (1985) showed in plot studies in Wyoming that livestock exclusion and reductions in stocking rates can result in improved habitat conditions for brook trout (Table 2-19) . In this study, the primary vegetation was willows, Pete Creek stocking density was 7.88 ac/AUM (acres per animal unit month), and Cherry Creek stocking density was 10 cows per acre.

Platts and Nelson (1989) used plot studies in Utah to evaluate the effects of livestock exclusion on riparian plant communities and streambanks. Several streambank characteristics that are related to the quality of fish habitat were measured, including bank stability, stream shore depth, streambank angle, undercut, overhang, and streambank alteration. The results clearly show better fish habitat in the areas where livestock were excluded (Table 2-20).

Kauffman et al. (1983) showed that fall cattle grazing decreases the standing phytomass of some riparian plant communities by as much as 21 percent versus areas where cattle are excluded, while causing increases for other plant communities. This study, conducted in Oregon from 1978 to 1980, incorporated stocking rates of 3.2 to 4.2 ac/AUM.

Eckert and Spencer (1987) studied the effects of a three-pasture, rest-rotation management plan on the growth and reproduction of heavily grazed native bunchgrasses in Wyoming. The results indicated that range improvement under this otherwise appropriate rotation grazing system is hindered by heavy grazing. Stocking rates on the study plots ranged from 525 to 742 cow-calf AUMs.

In a literature review, Van Poollen and Lacey (1979) showed that herbage production was greater for managed grazing versus continuous grazing, greater for moderate versus heavy intensity grazing, and greater for light- versus moderate-intensity grazing.

McDougald et al. (1989) tested the effects of moving supplemental feeding locations on riparian areas of hardwood range in California. With stocking rates of approximately 1 ac/AUM, they found that moving supplemental feeding locations away from water sources into areas with high amounts of forage greatly reduces the impacts of cattle on riparian areas (Table 2-21).

Miner et al. (1991) showed that the provision of supplemental water facilities reduced the time each cow spent in the stream within 4 hours of feeding from 14.5 minutes to 0.17 minutes (8-day average). This pasture study in Oregon showed that the 90 cows without supplemental water spent a daily average of 25.6 minutes per cow in the stream. For the 60 cows that were provided a supplemental water tank, the average daily time in the stream was 1.6 minutes per cow, while 11.6 minutes were spent at the water tank. Based on this study, the authors expect that decreased time spent in the stream will decrease bacterial loading from the cows.

Tiedemann et al. (1988) studied the effects of four grazing strategies on bacteria levels in 13 Oregon watersheds in the summer of 1984. Results indicate that lower fecal coliform levels can be achieved at stocking rates of about 20 ac/AUM if management for livestock distribution, fencing, and water developments are used (Table 2-22). The study also indicates that, even with various management practices, the highest fecal coliform levels were associated with the higher stocking rates (6.9 ac/AUM) employed in strategy D.

Lugbill (1990) estimates that stream protection in the Potomac River Basin will reduce total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) loads by 15 percent, while grazing land protection and permanent vegetation improvement will reduce TN and TP loads by 60 percent. Owens et al. (1982) measured nitrogen losses from an Ohio pasture under a medium-fertility, 12-month pasture program from 1974 to 1979. The results included no measurable soil loss from three watersheds under summer grazing only, and increased average TN concentrations and total soluble N loads from watersheds under summer grazing and winter feeding versus watersheds under summer grazing only (Table 2-23).

Data from a comparison of the expected effectiveness of various grazing and streambank practices in controlling sedimentation in the Molar Flats Pilot Study Area in Fresno County, California indicate that planned grazing systems are the most effective single practice for reducing sheet and rill erosion (Fresno Field Office, 1979). Streambank protection is expected to be the most effective single practice for reducing streambank erosion. Other practices evaluated are proper grazing use, deferred grazing, emergency seeding, and livestock exclusion.

5. Range and Pasture Management Practices

As discussed more fully at the beginning of this chapter and in Chapter 1, the following practices are described for illustrative purposes only. State programs need not require implementation of these practices. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measure set forth above generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the source, location, and climate. The practices set forth below have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully to achieve the management measure described above.

The U.S. Soil Conservation Service practice number and definition are provided for each management practice, where available. Also included in italics are SCS statements describing the effect each practice has on water quality (USDA-SCS, 1988.)

Grazing Management System Practices

Appropriate grazing management systems ensure proper grazing use by adjusting grazing intensity and duration to reflect the availability of forage and feed designated for livestock uses, and by controlling animal movement through the operating unit of range or pasture. Proper grazing use will maintain enough live vegetation and litter cover to protect the soil from erosion; will achieve riparian and other resource objectives; and will maintain or improve the quality, quantity, and age distribution of desirable vegetation. Practices that accomplish this are:

* a. Deferred grazing (352): Postponing grazing or resting grazing land for prescribed period.

In areas with bare ground or low percent ground cover, deferred grazing will reduce sediment yield because of increased ground cover, less ground surface disturbance, improved soil bulk density characteristics, and greater infiltration rates. Areas mechanically treated will have less sediment yield when deferred to encourage re-vegetation. Animal waste would not be available to the area during the time of deferred grazing and there would be less opportunity for adverse runoff effects on surface or aquifer water quality. As vegetative cover increases, the filtering processes are enhanced, thus trapping more silt and nutrients as well as snow if climatic conditions for snow exist. Increased plant cover results in a greater uptake and utilization of plant nutrients.

* b. Planned grazing system (556): A practice in which two or more grazing units are alternately rested and grazed in a planned sequence for a period of years, and rest periods may be throughout the year or during the growing season of key plants.

Planned grazing systems normally reduce the system time livestock spend in each pasture. This increases quality and quantity of vegetation. As vegetation quality increases, fiber content in manure decreases which speeds manure decomposition and reduces pollution potential. Freeze-thaw, shrink-swell, and other natural soil mechanisms can reduce compacted layers during the absence of grazing animals. This increases infiltration, increases vegetative growth, slows runoff, and improves the nutrient and moisture filtering and trapping ability of the area.

Decreased runoff will reduce the rate of erosion and movement of sediment and dissolved and sediment-attached substances to downstream water courses. No increase in ground water pollution hazard would be anticipated from the use of this practice.

* c. Proper grazing use (528): Grazing at an intensity that will maintain enough cover to protect the soil and maintain or improve the quantity and quality of desirable vegetation.

Increased vegetation slows runoff and acts as a sediment filter for sediments and sediment attached substances, uses more nutrients, and reduces raindrop splash. Adverse chemical effects should not be anticipated from the use of this practice.

* d. Proper woodland grazing (530): Grazing wooded areas at an intensity that will maintain adequate cover for soil protection and maintain or improve the quantity and quality of trees and forage vegetation.

This practice is applicable on wooded areas producing a significant amount of forage that can be harvested without damage to other values. In these areas there should be no detrimental effects on the quality of surface and ground water. Any time this practice is applied there must be a detailed management and grazing plan.

* e. Pasture and hayland management (510): Proper treatment and use of pasture or hayland.

With the reduced runoff there will be less erosion, less sediment and substances transported to the surface waters. The increased infiltration increases the possibility of soluble substances leaching into the ground water.

Alternate Water Supply Practices

Providing water and salt supplement facilities away from streams will help keep livestock away from streambanks and riparian zones. The establishment of alternate water supplies for livestock is an essential component of this measure when problems related to the distribution of livestock occur in a grazing unit. In most western states, securing water rights may be necessary. Access to a developed or natural water supply that is protective of streambank and riparian zones can be provided by using the stream crossing (interim) technology to build a watering site. In some locations, artificial shade may be constructed to encourage use of upland sites for shading and loafing. Providing water can be accomplished through the following Soil Conservation Service practices and the stream crossing (interim) practice (practice “m”) of the following section. Descriptions have been modified to meet CZM needs:

* f. Pipeline (516): Pipeline installed for conveying water for livestock or for recreation.

Pipelines may decrease sediment, nutrient, organic, and bacteria pollution from livestock. Pipelines may afford the opportunity for alternative water sources other than streams and lakes, possibly keeping the animals away from the stream or impoundment. This will prevent bank destruction with resulting sedimentation, and will reduce animal waste deposition directly in the water. The reduction of concentrated livestock areas will reduce manure solids, nutrients, and bacteria that accompany surface runoff.

* g. Pond (378): A water impoundment made by constructing a dam or an embankment or by excavation of a pit or dugout.

Ponds may trap nutrients and sediment which wash into the basin. This removes these substances from downstream. Chemical concentrations in the pond may be higher during the summer months. By reducing the amount of water that flows in the channel downstream, the frequency of flushing of the stream is reduced and there is a collection of substances held temporarily within the channel. A pond may cause more leachable substance to be carried into the ground water.

* h. Trough or tank (614): A trough or tank, with needed devices for water control and waste water disposal, installed to provide drinking water for livestock.

By the installation of a trough or tank, livestock may be better distributed over the pasture, grazing can be better controlled, and surface runoff reduced, thus reducing erosion. By itself this practice will have only a minor effect on water quality; however when coupled with other conservation practices, the beneficial effects of the combined practices may be large. Each site and application should be evaluated on their own merits.

* i. Well (642): A well constructed or improved to provide water for irrigation, livestock, wildlife, or recreation.

When water is obtained, if it has poor quality because of dissolved substances, its use in the surface environment or its discharge to downstream water courses the surface water will be degraded. The location of the well must consider the natural water quality and the hazards of its use in the potential contamination of the environment. Hazard exists during well development and its operation and maintenance to prevent aquifer quality damage from the pollutants through the well itself by back flushing, or accident, or flow down the annular spacing between the well casing and the bore hole.

* j. Spring development (574): Improving springs and seeps by excavating, cleaning, capping, or providing collection and storage facilities.

There will be negligible long-term water quality impacts with spring developments. Erosion and sedimentation may occur from any disturbed areas during and immediately after construction, but should be short-lived. These sediments will have minor amounts of adsorbed nutrients from soil organic matter.

Livestock Access Limitation Practices

It may be necessary to minimize livestock access to streambanks, ponds or lakeshores, and riparian zones to protect these areas from physical disturbance. This could also be accomplished by establishing special use pastures to manage livestock in areas of concentration. Practices include:

* k. Fencing (382): Enclosing or dividing an area of land with a suitable permanent structure that acts as a barrier to livestock, big game, or people (does not include temporary fences).

Fencing is a practice that can be on the contour or up and down slope. Often a fence line has grass and some shrubs in it. When a fence is built across the slope it will slow down runoff, and cause deposition of coarser grained materials reducing the amount of sediment delivered downslope. Fencing may protect riparian areas which act as sediment traps and filters along water channels and impoundments.

Livestock have a tendency to walk along fences. The paths become bare channels which concentrate and accelerate runoff causing a greater amount of erosion within the path and where the path/channel outlets into another channel. This can deliver more sediment and associated pollutants to surface waters. Fencing can have the effect of concentrating livestock in small areas, causing a concentration of manure which may wash off into the stream, thus causing surface water pollution.

* l. Livestock exclusion (472): Excluding livestock from an area not intended for grazing.

Livestock exclusion may improve water quality by preventing livestock from being in the water or walking down the banks, and by preventing manure deposition in the stream. The amount of sediment and manure may be reduced in the surface water. This practice prevents compaction of the soil by livestock and prevents losses of vegetation and undergrowth. This may maintain or increase evapotranspiration. Increased permeability may reduce erosion and lower sediment and substance transportation to the surface waters. Shading along streams and channels resulting from the application of this practice may reduce surface water temperature.

* m. Stream crossing (interim): A stabilized area to provide access across a stream for livestock and farm machinery.

The purpose is to provide a controlled crossing or watering access point for livestock along with access for farm equipment, control bank and streambed erosion, reduce sediment and enhance water quality, and maintain or improve wildlife habitat.

Vegetative Stabilization Practices

It may be necessary to improve or reestablish the vegetative cover on range and pastures to reduce erosion rates. The following practices can be used to reestablish vegetation:

* n. Pasture and hayland planting (512): Establishing and reestablishing long-term stands of adapted species of perennial, biannual, or reseeding forage plants. (Includes pasture and hayland renovation. Does not include grassed waterways or outlets or cropland.)

The long-term effect will be an increase in the quality of the surface water due to reduced erosion and sediment delivery. Increased infiltration and subsequent percolation may cause more soluble substances to be carried to ground water.

* o. Range seeding (550): Establishing adapted plants by seeding on native grazing land. (Range does not include pasture and hayland planting.)

Increased erosion and sediment yield may occur during the establishment of this practice. This is a temporary situation and sediment yields decrease when reseeded area becomes established. If chemicals are used in the reestablishment process, chances of chemical runoff into downstream water courses are reduced if application is applied according to label instructions. After establishment of the grass cover, grass sod slows runoff, acts as a filter to trap sediment, sediment attached substances, increases infiltration, and decreases sediment yields.

* p. Critical area planting (342): Planting vegetation, such as trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, or legumes, on highly erodible or critically eroding areas. (Does not include tree planting mainly for wood products.)

This practice may reduce soil erosion and sediment delivery to surface waters. Plants may take up more of the nutrients in the soil, reducing the amount that can be washed into surface waters or leached into ground water.

During grading, seedbed preparation, seeding, and mulching, large quantities of sediment and associated chemicals may be washed into surface waters prior to plant establishment.

* q. Brush (and weed) management (314): Managing and manipulating stands of brush (and weeds) on range, pasture, and recreation and wildlife areas by mechanical, chemical, or biological means or by prescribed burning. (Includes reducing excess brush (and weeds) to restore natural plant community balance and manipulating stands of undesirable plants through selective and patterned treatments to meet specific needs of the land and objectives of the land user.)

Improved vegetation quality and the decrease in runoff from the practice will reduce the amount of erosion and sediment yield. Improved vegetative cover acts as a filter strip to trap the movement of dissolved and sediment attached substances, such as nutrients and chemicals from entering downstream water courses. Mechanical brush management may initially increase sediment yields because of soil disturbances and reduced vegetative cover. This is temporary until revegetation occurs.

* r. Prescribed burning (338): Applying fire to predetermined areas under conditions under which the intensity and spread of the fire are controlled.

When the area is burned in accordance with the specifications of this practice the nitrates with the burned vegetation will be released to the atmosphere. The ash will contain phosphorous and potassium which will be in a relatively highly soluble form. If a runoff event occurs soon after the burn there is a probability that these two materials may be transported into the ground water or into the surface water. When in a soluble state the phosphorous and potassium will be more difficult to trap and hold in place. When done on range grasses the growth of the grasses is increased and there will be an increased tie-up of plant nutrients as the grasses’ growth is accelerated.

Selection of Practices

The selection of management practices for this measure should be based on an evaluation of current conditions, problems identified, quality criteria, and management goals. Successful resource management on range and pasture includes appropriate application of a combination of practices that will meet the needs of the range and pasture ecosystem (i.e., the soil, water, air, plant, and animal (including fish and shellfish) resources) and the objectives of the land user.

For a sound grazing land management system to function properly and to provide for a sustained level of productivity, the following should be considered:

* Know the key factors of plant species management, their growth habits, and their response to different seasons and degrees of use by various kinds and classes of livestock.
* Know the demand for, and seasons of use of, forage and browse by wildlife species.
* Know the amount of plant residue or grazing height that should be left to protect grazing land soils from wind and water erosion, provide for plant regrowth, and provide the riparian vegetation height desired to trap sediment or other pollutants.
* Know the range site production capabilities and the pasture suitability group capabilities so an initial stocking rate can be established.
* Know how to use livestock as a tool in the management of the range ecosystems and pastures to ensure the health and vigor of the plants, soil tilth, proper nutrient cycling, erosion control, and riparian area management, while at the same time meeting livestock nutritional requirements.
* Establish grazing unit sizes, watering, shade and salt locations, etc. to secure optimum livestock distribution and proper vegetation use.
* Provide for livestock herding, as needed, to protect sensitive areas from excessive use at critical times.
* Encourage proper wildlife harvesting to ensure proper population densities and forage balances.
* Know the livestock diet requirements in terms of quantity and quality to ensure that there are enough grazing units to provide adequate livestock nutrition for the season and the kind and classes of animals on the farm/ranch.
* Maintain a flexible grazing system to adjust for unexpected environmentally and economically generated problems.

Special requirements to protect threatened or endangered species.
6. Cost Information

Much of the cost associated with implementing grazing management practices is due to fencing installation, water development, and system maintenance. Costs vary according to region and type of practice. Generally, the more components or structures a practice requires, the more expensive it is. However, cost-share is usually available from the USDA and other Federal agencies for most of these practices.

a. Grazing Facilities

Principal direct costs of providing grazing facilities vary from relatively low variable costs of dispersed salt blocks to higher capital and maintenance costs of supplementary water supply improvements. Improving the distribution of grazing pressure by herding or strategically locating grazing facilities to draw cattle away from streamside areas can result in improved utilization of existing forage.

The availability and feasibility of supplementary water development varies considerably between arid western areas and humid eastern areas, but costs for water development, including spring development and pipeline watering, are similar (Table 2-24 (10k)).

b. Livestock Exclusion

Principal direct costs of livestock exclusion are the capital and maintenance costs for fencing to restrict access to streamside areas or the cost of herders to achieve the same results. In addition, there may be an indirect cost of the forage that is removed from grazing by exclusion.

There is considerable difference between multistrand barbed wire, chiefly used for perimeter fencing and permanent stream exclusion and diversions, and single- or double-strand smoothwire electrified fencing used for stream exclusion and temporary divisions within permanent pastures. The latter may be all that is needed to accomplish most livestock exclusion in smaller, managed pastures in the East (Table 2-25).

c. Improvement/Reestablishment

Principal direct costs of improving or reestablishing grazing land include the costs of seed, fertilizer, and herbicides needed to establish the new forage stand and the labor and machinery costs required for preparation, planting, cultivation, and weed control (Table 2-26). An indirect cost may be the forage that is removed from grazing during the reestablishment work and rest for seeding establishment.

d. Overall Costs of the Grazing Management Measure

Since the exact combination of practices needed to implement the management measure depends on site-specific conditions that are highly variable, the overall cost of the measure is best estimated from similar combinations of practices applied under the Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP), Rural Clean Water Program (RCWP), and similar activities. Cost data from the ACP programs are summarized in Table 2-27.

[ Notes to Table 2-27 ]

Management Measures for Agricultural Sources – III. Glossary

10-year, 24-hour storm: A rainfall event of 24-hour duration and 10-year frequency that is used to calculate the runoff volume and peak discharge rate to a BMP.

25-year, 24-hour storm: A rainfall event of 24-hour duration and 25-year frequency that is used to calculate the runoff volume and peak discharge rate to a BMP.

Acceptable Management System (AMS): A combination of conservation practices and management that meets resource quality criteria established in the FOTG by the State Conservationist that is feasible within the social, cultural, or economic constraints identified for the resource conditions. It is expected that some degradation may continue to occur for the resource after the AMS is applied (Part 506, Glossary, SCS General Manual).

Adsorption: The adhesion of one substance to the surface of another.

Agronomic practices: Soil and crop activities employed in the production of farm crops, such as selecting seed, seedbed preparation, fertilizing, liming, manuring, seeding, cultivation, harvesting, curing, crop sequence, crop rotations, cover crops, strip-cropping, pasture development, and others (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Aquifer: A geologic formation or structure that transmits water in sufficient quantity to supply the needs for a water development; usually saturated sands, gravel, fractures, and cavernous and vesicular rock (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

ASCS: Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service of USDA.

Animal unit: A unit of measurement for any animal feeding operation calculated by adding the following numbers: the number of slaughter and feeder cattle multiplied by 1.0, plus the number of mature dairy cattle multiplied by 1.4, plus the number of swine weighing over 25 kilograms (approximately 55 pounds) multiplied by 0.4, plus the number of sheep multiplied by 0.1, plus the number of horses multiplied by 2.0 (40 CFR Part 122, Appendix B).

AUM: Animal unit month. A measure of average monthly stocking rate that is the tenure of one animal unit for a period of 1 month. With respect to the literature reviewed for the grazing management measure, an animal unit is a mature, 1,000-pound cow or the equivalent based on average daily forage consumption of 26 pounds of dry matter per day (Platts, 1990). Alternatively, an AUM is the amount of forage that is required to maintain a mature, 1,000-pound cow or the equivalent for a one-month period. See animal unit for the NPDES definition.

Backflow prevention device: A safety device used to prevent water pollution or contamination by preventing flow of water and/or chemicals in the opposite direction of that intended (ASAE, 1989).

Best Management Practice (BMP): A practice or combination of practices that are determined to be the most effective and practicable (including technological, economic, and institutional considerations) means of controlling point and nonpoint pollutants at levels compatible with environmental quality goals (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Broiler: Bird that is raised for its meat production; usually produced in a 7-week period.

Center pivot: Automated sprinkler irrigation achieved by automatically rotating the sprinkler pipe or boom, supplying water to the sprinkler head or nozzle, as a radius from the center of the field to be irrigated (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Chemigation: The addition of one or more chemicals to the irrigation water.

Chemigated water: Water to which fertilizers or pesticides have been added.

Check valve: A device to provide positive closure that effectively prohibits the flow of material in the opposite direction of normal flow when operation of the irrigation system pumping plant or injection unit fails or is shut down (ASAE, 1989).

Composting: A controlled process of degrading organic matter by microorganisms (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Conservation management system (CMS): A generic term that includes any combination of conservation practices and management that achieves a level of treatment of the five natural resources that satisfies criteria contained in the Field Office Training Guide (FOTG), such as a resource management system or an acceptable management system (Part 506, Glossary, SCS General Manual).

Cover crop: A close-growing crop grown primarily for the purpose of protecting and improving soil between periods of regular crop production or between trees and vines in orchards and vineyards (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Crop residue: The portion of a plant or crop left in the field after harvest (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Crop rotation: The growing of different crops in recurring succession on the same land (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Defoliant: A herbicide that removes leaves from trees and growing plants (USEPA, 1989a).

Denitrification: The chemical or biochemical reduction of nitrate or nitrite to gaseous nitrogen, either as molecular nitrogen or as an oxide of nitrogen (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Deposition: The accumulation of material dropped because of a slackening movement of the transporting material water or wind (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Desiccant: A chemical agent used to remove moisture from a material or object (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Dike: An embankment to confine or control water, especially one built along the banks of a river to prevent overflow of lowlands; a levee (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Diversion: A channel, embankment, or other man-made structure constructed to divert water from one area to another (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Effluent: Solid, liquid, or gaseous wastes that enter the environment as a by-product of man-oriented processes (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Empirical: Originating in or relying or based on factual information, observation, or direct sense experience.

EPA: United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Erosion: Wearing away of the land surface by running water, glaciers, winds, and waves. The term erosion is usually preceded by a definitive term denoting the type or source of erosion such as gully erosion, sheet erosion, or bank erosion (Brakensiek et al., 1979).

ES: Extension Service of USDA.

Evaporation: The process by which a liquid is changed to a vapor or gas (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Fallow: Allowing cropland to lie idle, either tilled or untilled, during the whole or greater portion of the growing season (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Fertilizer: Any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply elements essential to plant growth (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Field capacity: The soil-water content after the force of gravity has drained or removed all the water it can, usually 1 to 3 days after rainfall (Evans et al., 1991c).

Flume: An open conduit on a prepared grade, trestle, or bridge for the purpose of carrying water across creeks, gullies, ravines, or other obstructions; also used in reference to calibrated devices used to measure the flow of water in open conduits (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Forb: A broad-leaf herbaceous plant that is not a grass, sedge, or rush.

FOTG: USDA-SCS’s Field Office Technical Guide.

Grade: (1) The slope of a road, channel, or natural ground. (2) To finish the surface of a canal bed, roadbed, top of embankment, or bottom of excavation (Soil Conservation Society of America).

Grazing unit: An area of public or private pasture, range, grazed woodland, or other land that is grazed as an entity.

Herbaceous: A vascular plant that does not develop woody tissue (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Herbicide: A chemical substance designed to kill or inhibit the growth of plants, especially weeds (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Herding: The guiding of a livestock herd to desired areas or density of distribution.

Holding pond: A reservoir, pit, or pond, usually made of earth, used to retain polluted runoff water for disposal on land (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Hybrid: A plant resulting from a cross between parents of different species, subspecies, or cultivar (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Hydrophyte: A plant that grows in water or in wet or saturated soils (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Incineration: The controlled process by which solids, liquid, or gaseous combustible wastes are burned and changed into gases; the residue produced contains little or no combustible material (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Inert: A substance that does not react with other substances under ordinary conditions.

Infiltration: The penetration of water through the ground surface into subsurface soil or the penetration of water from the soil into sewer or other pipes through defective joints, connections, or manhole walls (USEPA, 1989a).

Insecticide: A pesticide compound specifically used to kill or control the growth of insects (USEPA, 1989a).

Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A pest population management system that anticipates and prevents pests from reaching damaging levels by using all suitable tactics including natural enemies, pest-resistant plants, cultural management, and the judicious use of pesticides, leading to an economically sound and environmentally safe agriculture.

Irrigation: Application of water to lands for agricultural purposes (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Irrigation scheduling: The time and amount of irrigation water to be applied to an area. Karst: A type of topography characterized by closed depressions, sinkholes, underground caverns, and solution channels. See sinkhole (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Lagoon: A reservoir or pond built to contain water and animal wastes until they can be decomposed either by aerobic or anaerobic action (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Lateral: Secondary or side channel, ditch, or conduit (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Layer: Bird that is used to produce eggs for broilers, new layers, or consumption.

Leachate: Liquids that have percolated through a soil and that contain substances in solution or suspension (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Leaching: The removal from the soil in solution of the more soluble materials by percolating waters (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Legume: A member of a large family that includes many valuable food and forage species, such as peas, beans, peanuts, clovers, alfalfas, sweet clovers, lespedezas, vetches, and kudzu (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Levee: See dike.

Limiting nutrient concept: The application of nutrient sources such that no nutrient (e.g., N, P, K) is applied at greater than the recommended rate.

Livestock: Domestic animals.

Load: The quantity (i.e., mass) of a material that enters a waterbody over a given time interval (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Manure: The fecal and urinary defecations of livestock and poultry; may include spilled feed, bedding litter, or soil (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Micronutrient: A chemical element necessary in only extremely small amounts (less than 1 part per million) for the growth of plants (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

NOAA: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Nutrients: Elements, or compounds, essential as raw materials for organism growth and development, such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Parasites: An organism that lives on or in a host organism during all or part of its existence. Nourishment is obtained at the expense of the host (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Pasture: Grazing lands planted primarily to introduced or domesticated native forage species that receives periodic renovation and/or cultural treatments such as tillage, fertilization, mowing, weed control, and irrigation. Not in rotation with crops.

Percolation: The downward movement of water through the soil (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Perennial plant: A plant that has a life span of 3 or more years (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Permanent wilting point: The soil water content at which healthy plants can no longer extract water from the soil at a rate fast enough to recover from wilting. The permanent wilting point is considered the lower limit of plant-available water (Evans et al., 1991c).

Permeability: The quality of a soil horizon that enables water or air to move through it; may be limited by the presence of one nearly impermeable horizon even though the others are permeable (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Pesticide: Any chemical agent used for control of plant or animal pests. Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, nematocides, and rodenticides.

Pheromone: A substance secreted by an insect or an animal that influences the behavior or morphological development, or both, of other insects or animals of the same species (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Plant-available water: The amount of water held in the soil that is available to plants; the difference between field capacity and the permanent wilting point (Evans et al., 1991c).

Pollutant: Dredged spoil, solid waste, incinerator residue, sewage, garbage, sewage sludge, munitions, chemical wastes, biological materials, radioactive materials, heat, wrecked or discarded equipment, rock, sand, cellar dirt, and industrial, municipal, and agricultural waste discharged into water (Section 502(6) of The Clean Water Act as amended by the Water Quality Act of 1987, Pub. L. 100-4).

Range: Land on which the native vegetation (climax or natural potential) is predominantly grasses, grass-like plants, forbs, or shrubs. Includes lands revegetated naturally or artificially when routine management of that vegetation is accomplished mainly through manipulation of grazing. Range includes natural grasslands, savannas, shrublands, most deserts, tundra, alpine communities, coastal marshes, wet meadows, and riparian areas.

Reduced-till: A system in which the primary tillage operation is performed in conjunction with special planting procedures to reduce or eliminate secondary tillage operations (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Residue: See crop residue.

Resource Management System (RMS): A combination of conservation practices and management identified by land or water uses that, when installed, will prevent resource degradation and permit sustained use by meeting criteria established in the FOTG for treatment of soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources (Part 506, Glossary, SCS General Manual).

Return flow: That portion of the water diverted from a stream that finds its way back to the stream channel either as surface or underground flow (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Riparian area: Vegetated ecosystems along a waterbody through which energy, materials, and water pass. Riparian areas characteristically have a high water table and are subject to periodic flooding and influence from the adjacent waterbody.

Root zone: The part of the soil that is, or can be, penetrated by plant roots (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Runoff: That part of precipitation, snow melt, or irrigation water that runs off the land into streams or other surface water. It can carry pollutants from the air and land into the receiving waters (USEPA, 1989a).

Salinity: The concentration of dissolved solids or salt in water (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Savannas: A grassland with scattered trees, either as individuals or clumps; often a transitional type between true grasslands and woodland.

SCS: Soil Conservation Service of USDA.

SCS Soils-5 Information: SCS Soil Interpretation Records data base, which contains a wide variety of soil characteristics and interpretations. Available through the Statistical Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

Sediment: The product of erosion processes; the solid material, both mineral and organic, that is in suspension, is being transported, or has been moved from its site of origin by air, water, gravity, or ice (USDA-SCS, 1991).

Sedimentation: The process or act of depositing sediment (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Seepage: Water escaping through or emerging from the ground along an extensive line or surface as contrasted with a spring, where the water emerges from a localized spot (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Settleable solids: Solids in a liquid that can be removed by stilling a liquid. Settling times of 1 hour (APHA/AWWA/WPFC, 1975) or more are generally used (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Sheet flow: Water, usually storm runoff, flowing in a thin layer over the ground surface (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Silage: A fodder crop that has been preserved in a moist, succulent condition by partial fermentation; such crops include corn, sorghums, legumes, and grasses (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Sinkhole: A depression in the earth’s surface caused by dissolving of underlying limestone, salt, or gypsum; drainage is through underground channels; may be enlarged by collapse of a cavern roof (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Slope: The degree of deviation of a surface from horizontal, measured as a percentage, as a numerical ratio, or in degrees (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Sludge: The material resulting from chemical treatment of water, coagulation, or sedimentation (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982). Soil profile: A vertical section of the soil from the surface through all its horizons, including C horizons (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Soil survey: A general term for the systematic examination of soils in the field and in laboratories; their description and classification; the mapping of kinds of soil; the interpretation of soils according to their adaptability for various crops, grasses, and trees; their behavior under use or treatment for plant production or for other purposes; and their productivity under different management systems (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Soil water depletion volume: The amount of plant-available water removed from the soil by plants and evaporation from the soil surface (Evans et al., 1991c).

Surface water: All water whose surface is exposed to the atmosphere (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Suspended sediment: The very fine soil particles that remain in suspension in water for a considerable period of time (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Tailwater: Irrigation water that reaches the lower end of a field (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Tillage: The operation of implements through the soil to prepare seedbeds and rootbeds, control weeds and brush, aerate the soil, and cause faster breakdown of organic matter and minerals to release plant foods (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Tilth: The physical condition of the soil as related to its ease of tillage, its fitness as a seedbed, and its impedance to seedling emergence and root penetration (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Topography: The relative positions and elevations of the natural or man-made features of an area that describe the configuration of its surface (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

USDA: United States Department of Agriculture.

Waste: Material that has no original value or no value for the ordinary or main purpose of manufacture or use; damaged or defective articles of manufacture; or superfluous or rejected matter or refuse (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Watershed: A drainage area or basin in which all land and water areas drain or flow toward a central collector such as a stream, river, or lake at a lower elevation.

Water table: The upper surface of the ground water or that level below which the soil is saturated with water; locus of points in soil water at which the hydraulic pressure is equal to atmospheric pressure (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

Weir: Device for measuring or regulating the flow of water (Soil Conservation Society of America, 1982).

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