Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2003
Publication Date: 11/22/2003
Citation: Cooper, C.M., Moore, M.T. 2003. Wetland and agriculture. In: Holland, M.M., Blood, E.R. and Shaffer, L.R., editors. Achieving Sustainable Freshwater Systems: A web of connections. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. p. 221-235. Interpretive Summary: Wetlands have been called nature's kidneys because of their efficiency in filtering harmful contaminants out of water. If those wetlands near agricultural fields, they help clean the water by removing sediments, nutrients, and pesticides that may otherwise be transported into rivers, lakes, or streams. This book chapter outlines the historical importance of wetlands in the agricultural landscape. It also addresses the different types of agricultural pollutants and how efficient natural and constructed wetlands are at removal. The chapter concludes with a focus on new and emerging technology (vegetated drainage ditches) in wetland science.
Technical Abstract: The values of wetlands are commonly known among the general population. More importantly, ecological wetland functions such as nutrient cycling and mitigation of pollutants are becoming more recognized, especially in the agricultural community. Certain agricultural crops thrive in the moist, rich wetland soils, while wetlands near agricultural lands receive nutrient imputs to maintain an ecosystem balance. More importantly, this relationship shows the intricate balance between viable food and fiber production and preservation of natural resources. Wetlands, both natural and constructed, serve as important habitats for a variety of plants and animals. They also serve as natural buffers for rivers, lakes, and streams. By maintaining these wetlands around production agricultural landscape, significant improvements in water quality may be achieved. This will have a direct effect upon the preservation of our aquatic resources. It is imperative to not only discuss the historical relationship of agriculture and wetlands, but also focus on future symbiotic relationships resulting in sustained food and fiber production, while not compromising the ecological integrity of the surrounding watershed.