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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Ditch Drainage Management for Water Quality Improvement: Ditch Drainage Treatment Structures

item Penn, Chad
item Mcgrath, Joshua
item Bryant, Ray

Submitted to: Research Signpost: Research Developments in Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/18/2009
Publication Date: 1/21/2010
Citation: Penn, C.J., Mcgrath, J.M., Bryant, R.B. 2010. Ditch drainage management for water quality improvement: Ditch drainage treatment structures. In: Moore, M. T., Kroger, R., editors. Agricultural Drainage Ditches: Mitigation Wetlands for the 21st Century. Kerala, India: Research Signpost. p. 151-172.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Agricultural productivity is often dependent on drainage ditches to remove excessive water from fields. Although such ditches can act to transport nutrients and other contaminants directly to surface waters, they also represent a potential interaction point in which runoff from non-point areas are focused at a single point. Therefore, runoff occurring from several acres possessing nutrients, trace metals, organic chemicals such as pesticides, and hormones can be treated at a single point by use of a ditch treatment structure. Nitrogen concentrations can be decreased via de-nitrification using a flow control structure, which allows one to control the depth of the water table behind it. In addition, filter structures filled with various sorbents placed in the ditch can be used to directly remove contaminants from passing water. As the sorbents become saturated with the target contaminants they can be removed from the structure and replaced. The ditch treatment structures provide a management practice for capturing dissolved contaminants, something that many BMPs fail to do. This chapter discusses the design, mode of operation, and effectiveness of flow control structures and ditch filters for improving water quality. A systems approach to implementing ditch treatment structures in a manner that takes advantage of the different, but complementary modes of operation to maximize the beneficial effects of these two types of structures is proposed.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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