Beyond the edge: Linking agricultural landscapes, stream networks, and best management practices

Journal of Environmental Quality
By: , and 



Despite much research and investment into understanding and managing nutrients across agricultural landscapes, nutrient runoff to freshwater ecosystems is still a major concern. We argue there is currently a disconnect between the management of watershed surfaces (agricultural landscape) and river networks (riverine landscape). These landscapes are commonly managed separately, but there is limited cohesiveness between agricultural landscape-focused research and river science, despite similar end goals. Interdisciplinary research into stream networks that drain agricultural landscapes is expanding but is fraught with problems. Conceptual frameworks are useful tools to order phenomena, reveal patterns and processes, and in interdisciplinary river science, enable the joining of multiple areas of understanding into a single conceptual–empirical structure. We present a framework for the interdisciplinary study and management of agricultural and riverine landscapes. The framework includes components of an ecosystems approach to the study of catchment–stream networks, resilience thinking, and strategic adaptive management. Application of the framework is illustrated through a study of the Fox Basin in Wisconsin, USA. To fully realize the goal of nutrient reduction in the basin, we suggest that greater emphasis is needed on where best management practices (BMPs) are used within the spatial context of the combined watershed–stream network system, including BMPs within the river channel. Targeted placement of BMPs throughout the riverine landscape would increase the overall buffering capacity of the system to nutrient runoff and thus its resilience to current and future disturbances.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Beyond the edge: Linking agricultural landscapes, stream networks, and best management practices
Series title Journal of Environmental Quality
DOI 10.2134/jeq2017.08.0319
Volume 47
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, & Soil Science Society of America
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description 12 p.
First page 42
Last page 53
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details