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An Assessment of MitAgator: A Farm-Scale Tool to Estimate and Manage the Loss of Contaminants from Land to Water

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 59(2): 537-543. (doi: 10.13031/trans.59.11192) @2016
Authors:   Richard W. McDowell, Gina M. Lucci, Greg Peyroux, Harry Yoswara, Matt Brown, Ian Kalmakoff, Neil Cox, Paul Smale, David Wheeler, Natalie Watkins, Chris Smith, Ross Monaghan, Richard Muirhead, Warwick Catto, Jim Risk
Keywords:   E. coli, Good management practices (GMPs), Mitigation measures, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Sediment.

Abstract. Land users and managers require decision support tools (DSTs) that enable them to estimate losses of contaminants from land to freshwater. MitAgator is a DST that estimates losses of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), sediment, and fecal indicator bacteria () and the cost-effectiveness of different strategies to mitigate losses so that a water quality target can be met at the least cost. Some of the algorithms present within Overseer (a standard DST used in New Zealand for N and P management) have been modified and appended to include spatial analysis in MitAgator. Outputs from MitAgator showed good (R2 > 0.77; p < 0.001) prediction of measured N and P losses across a range of land uses, but accuracy decreased at larger (catchment) scales. Analysis for P outputs indicated that the most sensitive inputs were hydrological characteristics, followed by soil characteristics and P inputs. Although national databases are used for many of these inputs, if better local data are available, then they should be used. Furthermore, while MitAgator is easy to use by a novice, MitAgator outputs should only be interpreted in collaboration with an experienced user so that limitations concerning cost-effectiveness estimates and spatial and temporal scales are not exceeded.

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