Non-point sources from human activities such as farming have replaced industrial point sources as contributors of many contaminants in surface and subsurface waters of the United States. Agricultural activities on EKU’s Meadowbrook Farm (720 acres, Madison County, Kentucky) contribute nutrients to the Muddy Creek watershed that promote eutrophication and degrade water quality. Best farm practices recommend mediation of contributions of dissolved nutrients by developing a phosphorus sequestration program.
For the next several years before phosphorus sequestration begins, we will quantify nutrient export of a representative portion of the Farm by measuring stream discharge and nutrients (orthophosphate, PO43-; total phosphorous; nitrate, NO3-; and ammonium, NH4+) over a constructed weir. Once sequestration begins we will continue to monitor nutrient export and compare before-and-after results to test the efficacy of phosphorus sequestration efforts. Our team initiated work in summer 2016 and will continue investigations through 2018.
Farming and geology combine to control runoff and the nutrient content of Meadowbrook Farm waters. Two main overland drainages and a series of 10 springs drain into Muddy Creek on the Farm’s southern and eastern borders. Springs emanate from the Boyle Dolomite (Silurian) and often connect to surface drainage before entering Muddy Creek. Crop areas of the Farm are underlain by a network of tile drains that discharge directly into Muddy Creek or into overland channels. Our team sampled waters from all major water sources to assess dissolved nutrient levels with initial results given as a series of student posters presented at the EKU UP Showcase.