Modelling the influence of land management decisions on phosphorus transport in an agricultural watershed

Authors: Peter Deadman*, University of Waterloo, Derek Robinson, University of Waterloo, Johanna Wandel, University of Waterloo, Liuyi Guo, University of Waterloo
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Land Use, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: agriculture, best management practices, water quality, agent based modelling
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study describes a pilot simulation tool designed to explore the interactions between the human and natural systems associated with agricultural best management practices (BMPs) and phosphorous runoff in a southwestern Ontario watershed. An agent-based simulation of farmer decision making related to the adoption of agricultural best management practices informs a hydrological model linking agricultural land use practices to nutrient loading under alternate policy and climate scenarios. A survey of farmers in the Medway River watershed in Ontario was undertaken to identify and assess the social, economic, and environmental factors that influence farmers’ decisions to adopt and maintain BMPs. The survey informed the development of a spatially explicit agent based simulation where farmer agents make land use decisions in response to changing economic, environmental, and policy conditions. Land use outcomes from the agent based model provide input to a hydrological model (currently SWAT) of nutrient loading in the watershed. Coupled modelling scenarios focus on understanding the resilience of the watershed system to changes in agricultural BMPs policy, and to macro-level environmental and economic drivers. The model is being pilot tested in a Southwestern Ontario watershed (Medway River Watershed, within the Thames River Watershed, Ontario), but will be applied in other agricultural watersheds across Canada.

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