Livestock grazing management impacts on stream water quality: A review

Carmen T. Agouridis, Stephen R. Workman, Richard C. Warner, Gregory D. Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


Controlling agricultural nonpoint source pollution from livestock grazing is a necessary step to improving the water quality of the nation's streams. The goal of enhanced stream water quality will most likely result from the implementation of an integrated system of best management practices (BMPs) linked with stream hydraulic and geomorphic characteristics. However, a grazing BMP system is often developed with the concept that BMPs will function independently from interactions among controls, climatic regions, and the multifaceted functions exhibited by streams. This paper examines the peer reviewed literature pertaining to grazing BMPs commonly implemented in the southern humid region of the United States to ascertain effects of BMPs on stream water quality. Results indicate that the most extensive BMP research efforts occurred in the western and midwestern U.S. While numerous studies documented the negative impacts of grazing on stream health, few actually examined the success of BMPs for mitigating these effects. Even fewer studies provided the necessary information to enable the reader to determine the efficacy of a comprehensive systems approach integrating multiple BMPs with pre-BMP and post-BMP geomorphic conditions. Perhaps grazing BMP research should begin incorporating geomorphic information about the streams with the goal of achieving sustainable stream water quality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04076
Pages (from-to)591-606
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Agriculture
  • Best management practices
  • Environmental impacts
  • Nonpoint source pollution
  • Sustainability
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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