Central Plains Center for Bioassessment

Validation of the Clean Water Farms Project

Confining cattle to feed lots leads to devegetation, erosion and water quality problems including fecal coliform contamination.
Date January 1996 - December 2001
Contact Debbie Baker
Location Eight farms in central and northeastern Kansas


About the Clean Water Farms Project

The Clean Water Farms Project (CWFP) was initiated in 1995 by the Kansas Rural Center to help farmers and ranchers in Kansas adopt land management practices that address water quality issues involving nonpoint source pollution (NPSP). Funded by United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Nonpoint Source Section 319 Funds through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, grants of up to $5000 were distributed to thirty-five Kansas farms and ranches involved in cropping systems, livestock
operations and integrated systems to implement changes in land management with the eventual goal of water quality improvement.

CPCB's Role

As a companion project to the CWFP, the Central Plains Center for BioAssessment developed water quality monitoring programs on eight farms in six counties in central and northeast Kansas to detect differences in water quality that relate to the changes in management practices.

The two primary goals of the monitoring projects were:

  1. to assess edge-of-field concentrations of nutrient and herbicide compounds relative to different Kansas agricultural management practices
  2. to relate observed concentrations to land management practices and weather patterns.

Monitoring began in 1996 on five farms and on three additional farms in 1998 to provide data on existing conditions and to identify sources of variation in water quality over time and space. Runoff, shallow groundwater, surface water and soils from isolated agricultural drainages were sampled, and analyses were performed for nitrogen and phosphorus compounds, herbicides (atrazine and metolachlor), and fecal coliform bacteria.


A Microsoft Excel workbook containing edge-of-field runoff, vadose zone groundwater, surface water, and aquatic macroinvertebrates is available for download.

[Download 246k .xls]

Analysis, Results, or Reports

Clean Water Farms Project KBS Report (.pdf file)
Poster (2.57 Mb .pdf file)
Powerpoint Presentation (7 Mb .ppt file)

Maps, Images, or Photos

An eight-foot lysimeter is used to collect subsurface drainage (i.e. soilwater) in Marion, KS.
A CPCB researcher conducts a field survey to identify sampling sites in a rowcropped field.
A CWFP participant sits in a field gully that will be remedied with check dams to slow runoff water velocity and fencing to keep cattle out of the area.
A runoff sampler is stationed to collect field runoff coming from a rotational grazing system.
Confining cattle to feed lots leads to devegetation, erosion and water quality problems including fecal coliform contamination.