Investigating the disproportionality of pollutant loading based on farmer social indicators

PI: Margaret Kalcic

Kalcic is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at UW–Madison. Her research interests include agricultural hydrology, water quality modeling, agricultural conservation, geospatial analysis and watershed management. Kalcic’s position is funded by the Dairy Innovation Hub.

Graduate student (pictured above): Andrew Hillman is pursuing a PhD in environment and resources and is mentored by Kalcic and Anita Thompson, professor and chair of biological systems engineering. He earned his master’s in biological and agricultural engineering from North Carolina State University. His research experiences includes using sensors for sensing soil water parameters and ecohydrological assessment.

The overarching areas this research project will cover are land use interactions with water quality in Wisconsin in a modeling-based study, as well as investigating the impacts of various outreach and policy structures used in the US to address agricultural water quality concerns. Wisconsin’s waterways contribute to both the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes, each of which have considerable water quality concerns related to pollutant sources attributed to agricultural production. These same concerns are evident at regional and local scales in smaller waterbodies. This project will be focused on the Sinsinawa watershed in Grant County, Wisconsin. The goal of this project is to develop social typologies for farmers in the watershed based on a survey, and use that data to inform a hydrologic model of the watershed. The agricultural practices and associated nutrient export in the watershed will then be simulated under different policy framework scenarios. Understanding farmer motivations and their responses to policy changes will illuminate what types of water quality policy and outreach frameworks may be successful in the future in the Sinsinawa watershed, and Wisconsin as a whole. This project should result in a number of presentations and publications, as well as scientific results that will be useful for the dairy industry and the public.

Andrew Hillman