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Ongoing Studies

Targeting Placement of Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands in the Northern Great Plains (USFWS – Habitat and Population Evaluation Team) – Developing an objective process to evaluate habitat priority zones that increase wildlife benefits of grassland restoration under CRP, specifically in considering score factor N1c of the EBI. (FY20 Funded)

Assessing Undisturbed Grasslands in the Conterminous United States to Inform Conservation Delivery (Prairie Pothole Joint Venture) – Objectively determine grassland zones/metric based on proximity to functionally equivalent native grasslands. (FY20 Funded)

SHIPP and Soil Health Assessment (TBD) – Long-term perennial covers enhance soil health on land ultimately returned to production, albeit to an unknown degree. Assesses the soil health impacts of stands over a range of quality and age that have been (will be) established via SHIPP, CRP, ACEP, etc. (FY20 Funded)

Renovating Exotic Cool Season Grass Plantings to Functional CRP (Montana State University) – Renovate CRP planted in exotic, cool season grasses into diverse, native plantings that support livestock, wildlife, and/or pollinators, and reduce erosion and weed cover (Ongoing; Expected completion Dec. 2022)

Improving Establishment of Pollinator Mixes by Evaluating Current and Alternative Planting Strategies (ARS) – Increase establishment success using experimental plots on low-moisture landscapes. (Ongoing; Expected completion August 2022)

Updating Soil Erosion Estimates (Colorado State University) – The Environmental Benefits Index uses obsolete soil erosion, water quality, and air quality metrics. A web service will be developed to generate improved estimates that are more consistent with NRCS. (Ongoing; Expected completion May 2022)

Forest Inventory Pilot, Phases 1 and 2 (Conservation Biology Institute) – Phase 1 estimates timber resources and other outputs on CRP; develop a tool that landowners can use to market them. In Phase 2, the remote sensing approach and tool to quantify timber resources and other aspects of CRP enrollments developed in Phase 1 will be refined and expanded. (Ongoing; Expected completion June 2021 (Phase 1); Dec. 2021 (Phase 2))

Improving Establishment of Pollinator Mixes by Evaluating Current and Alternative Planting Strategies Survey (ARS) – A detailed study pairing extensive environmental (e.g. soil type, precipitation) and management (e.g. seed rates, seeding methods) data from landowner interviews with monitoring data on vegetation outcomes from at least 200 newly enrolled fields will help to identify successful approaches to establish grassland cover. (Ongoing; Expected completion Dec. 2021)

Effectiveness of the Conservation Reserve Program Buffers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (ARS) – Assessing riparian buffer effectiveness and developing strategies to enhance the targeting, implementation, and management of CRP buffers to optimize the provision of water quality and other ecosystem services. (Ongoing; Expected completion Dec. 2021)

Assessing the Water Quality and Productivity Impacts of Prairie Strips (Iowa State University) – The new Prairie Strips practice has considerable potential that needs to be rigorously assessed. This project monitors experimental sites and models impacts of Prairie Strips. (Ongoing; Expected completion Sept. 2021)

Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions for the Playa Lakes Joint Venture to inform the Conservation Reserve Program (Bird Conservancy of the Rockies) – Monitor bird populations throughout Playa Lakes region, oversampling CRP to model response of birds to program. (Ongoing; Expected completion Sept. 2021)

Estimating the Economic Value of Grass and Wetland Conservation Practices to the Public (University of Illinois) – The off-site benefits of restored ecosystems have been found to be significant yet have not been rigorously assessed for prairies. This study will fill that gap and contribute to CRP benefits reporting. (Ongoing; Expected completion June 2021)

Developing an Approach to Estimate and Report CREP Outcomes, Phases 1 and 2 (USGS) – Phase 1 develops a standard monitoring and reporting protocol for CREP to make reporting easier to generate, review, and use. Phase 2 establishes protocols to generate unit values to facilitate and improve CREP benefits reporting. (Ongoing; Expected completion June 2021(Phase 1)/December 2021(Phase 2))

Quantifying the Regional Impact of CRP on Pollinator Health and Identifying Specific Plants that Are Used By Honey Bees in Three States: Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota (USGS – Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center) – This study will examine honey bee health and productivity, as well as native pollinator abundance and diversity. (Ongoing; Expected completion May 2021)

Modeling Water Quality Impacts of CLEAR Practices (Texas A&M Agrilife Research/ARS) – Water quality estimates have been reported annually but are not specific to continuous practices. The APEX model will be used to estimate WQ impacts of CRP for CLEAR practice enrollments. (Ongoing; Expected completion Dec. 2021)

Monitoring Water Quality Impacts (ARS) – Develop new technologies to map the impact of management practices on nitrate export to streams and ditches. Apply this technology to identify innovative practices that farmers and landowners are using to reduce nitrate losses. (Ongoing; Expected completion Sept. 2022)