Automated water sampling on a stream in Hendricks County, Ind., that feeds into Eagle Creek reservoir by no means stops. Tonight, whilst you sleep, each quarter-hour like clockwork, two automated sampling stations positioned about 1 mile aside will pull water samples from the stream. It doesn’t matter which day of the 12 months you learn this story — these samplers work 12 months per 12 months.
“That is what is amazing about this technology,” says Jeff Frey of the U.S. Geological Survey, the company that put in and maintains these items. “In the old days, we would grab a sample and take it to the lab. It might be a while before another sample was taken. It was easy to miss events that could cause a spike in runoff or flow of nutrients down a stream,” he says.
“Today, we aren’t going to miss those events. I even monitor what’s going on through my phone. We get a much clearer picture of what’s happening.”
Why 2 stations
Whereas USGS has a number of monitoring stations in Indiana, it’s uncommon to have two shut collectively, Frey says. USGS elected to place in a pair of samplers so it might measure high quality of water coming from an space the place most farmers follow typical farming, after which measure it downstream after it passes thought an space the place most fields are no-tilled and canopy crops have been customary process for roughly 20 years.
USGS isn’t the one group thinking about assessing water high quality right here. Mike Starkey, who no-tills and farms the land between the 2 stations, says Bob Barr, a professor at Indiana College-Purdue College, Indianapolis, initiated a research years in the past when Indianapolis Water Co. authorities requested him to search out out what was taking place alongside that stream.
Different events are concerned, too. Six years in the past, a research was initiated to match fertilizing by Tri-State suggestions on one facet of the stream vs. fertilizing by Starkey’s regular practices, which contain far much less fertilizer utility, on the opposite facet. That research will conclude quickly, with outcomes hopefully accessible subsequent 12 months.
Some teams working within the stream draw samples from tile traces. Starkey says tile is much more vital when you’ve been in no-till and canopy crops for a very long time. Extra water infiltrates the soil, and there’s extra water to maneuver out. He’s pattern-tiling some long-term no-till and canopy crop fields, although it means some disturbance to the floor.
The samplers that Frey oversees pattern stream circulate and focus of vitamins within the stream. It’s not an affordable operation. Working the sampler for a 12 months prices about $60,000, he says.
He’s hoping the data they receive will be invaluable. To this point, these samplers haven’t been working lengthy sufficient to trust in traits.
“Based on what we’ve seen elsewhere, we’re confident that following best management practices is having an effect,” Frey says. “I’m convinced that cover crops and filter strips like the ones along this stream are the key to keeping phosphorus in the field.”