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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT AND TREATMENT OF DRAINAGE WATERS FOR WATER QUALITY PROTECTION AND SUSTAINABILITY OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN THE MIDWEST U.S. Title: Agricultural drainage water management: Potential impact and implementation strategies

item Fausey, Norman
item Seger, Mark -
item Brown, Larry -

Submitted to: American Chemical Society National Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 26, 2009
Publication Date: August 17, 2009
Citation: Fausey, N.R., Seger, M., Brown, L. 2009. Agricultural drainage water management: Potential impact and implementation strategies [abstract]. American Chemical Society National Meeting.

Technical Abstract: The unique soil and climate of the Upper Mississippi River Basin (and the Lake Erie Basin) area provide the resources for bountiful agricultural production. Agricultural drainage (both surface and subsurface drainage) is essential for achieving economically viable crop production and management. Drainage practices alter the hydrology; shortening the travel distance and travel time for precipitation to move from the landscape into the stream networks, and increasing the volume of water moving to the streams. Consequently the water interacts less with the mineral and organic components of the soil profile and there is less opportunity for biological and chemical interactions to process dissolved nutrients carried with the drainage water to the streams. Historically these drainage systems were managed as free drainage systems allowing all the water that reached the drain to flow freely to the receiving stream. The advent of the concept of drainage water management has provided new management strategies for drainage water that have shown significant beneficial environmental impact in research studies. These benefits are being quantified, tested, and demonstrated at the field scale across the Midwest through an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant. Plot scale research in Ohio has shown significant reduction in drainage volume and nitrate load delivered offsite with winter season drainage water management (raising the drainage outlet elevation). The primary objectives of the CIG project are to demonstrate these flow reductions at the field scale and to assess the potential yield benefit of crop season drainage water management (additional water for crop use). Educational programs are being offered on design of these systems, and cost sharing is available in some states to incentivize both installation and management. Spatial distribution of soils where this practice can be applied will be quantified, and a CIG project update will be included.

Last Modified: 12/1/2015
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