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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Houma, Louisiana » Sugarcane Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #238183

Title: Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force (ADMSTF)

Author
item Fouss, James
item SULLIVAN, MICHAEL - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)

Submitted to: Proceedings of the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2009
Publication Date: 5/17/2009
Citation: Fouss, J.L., Sullivan, M. 2009. Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force (ADMSTF). Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) of the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress Conference 2009. 4068-4077.

Interpretive Summary: The Agricultural Drainage Management Systems (ADMS) Task Force was formed in the fall of 2002 by dedicated professional employees of Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies and Land Grant Universities. The Agricultural Drainage Management (ADM) Coalition was established in 2003 by drainage industry officials, trade associations and nongovernment organizations. These two groups formed a working partnership to promote and implement the practice of drainage water management (controlled-drainage) on agricultural cropland. This water management practice can significantly improve the quality of drainage water that flows from agricultural cropland. Earlier research had shown that a large percentage of the fertilizer nutrients that flows down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers come from drained agricultural cropland in the Midwest region. An initial primary goal of the partnership groups was to reduce the loss and transport of fertilizer nutrients, particularly nitrate-Nitrogen, from drained croplands in the Midwestern States on a farm-by-farm basis. Members of the Task Force and Coalition installed and conducted field demonstrations for farmers to promote and encourage them to install and implement the controlled-drainage practice for both new drainage installations and by retrofitting their existing drainage systems with flow controls on the drainage outlet pipes. Research had been conducted previously at multiple locations to evaluate drainage water management systems and found that the decrease in loss of nitrate-Nitrogen from the cropland carried in subsurface drainage discharge was almost directly proportion to the reduction in drainage outflow volume because control structures were installed on the drainage outlets. A common research finding at most of these locations was a 50% reduction in drainage outflow and nitrate loss. The desired ultimate goal of the ADMSTF and ADMC partnership efforts remains to implement drainage water management on a large enough scale (watershed-by-watershed) in the Midwest to decrease the amount of excess nutrients carried in the flows down the Mississippi River Basin to the Gulf of Mexico. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) had reported drainage flows from agricultural lands in the Midwest states as a major source of nitrate-Nitrogen contributing to the persistent annual formation of the large hypoxic zone (“dead zone”) in the Gulf of Mexico. Members of the Task Force conducted a preliminary computer modeling & simulation study for 48 locations in an 8-state area of the Midwest (MN, IA, MO, IL, IN, OH, MI, and WI), where drainage management could be effectively implemented on cropland with a land slope of 0.5% or less. The simulations predicted a reduction in loss of 16.9 lb-N/ac/yr nitrate-Nitrogen from the Upper Mississippi River Basin to the Gulf of Mexico, and this represented a reduction of 51% over the long term for that Midwest region.

Technical Abstract: The Agricultural Drainage Management Systems (ADMS) Task Force was initiated during a Charter meeting in the fall of 2002 by dedicated professional employees of Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies and Universities. The Agricultural Drainage Management (ADM) Coalition was established in 2003 by drainage industry officials, trade associations and nongovernment organizations. These two groups formed a working partnership to promote and implement drainage water management systems that can significantly improve the quality of drainage water flows from agricultural cropland. Earlier research had shown that a large percentage of the nitrate-nitrogen that migrates down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers comes from surface and subsurface drainage discharge from agricultural cropland in the Midwest region. An initial primary goal of the partnership groups was to reduce the loss and transport of fertilizer nutrients, particularly nitrate-Nitrogen, from drained agricultural croplands in the Midwestern States on a farm-by-farm basis. They installed and conducted field demonstrations for farmers to promote and encourage them to install and implement drainage water management practices (controlled-drainage) for both new drainage installations and by retrofitting their existing drainage systems with drainage outlet controls. Previous research that had been conducted at multiple locations to evaluate controlled-drainage systems documented that the decrease in nitrate-Nitrogen loss in drainage discharge was almost directly proportion to the reduction in drainage outflow volume accomplished by installing control structures on the drainage outlets. A 50% reduction in drainage outflow and nitrate loss was a common research finding at most of these locations. The desired ultimate goal of the ADMSTF and ADMC partnership efforts was to implement drainage water management on a large enough scale (watershed-by-watershed) in the Midwest to decrease transport of excess nutrients through the Mississippi River drainage basin to the Gulf of Mexico. EPA and USGS had reported this source of nitrate-Nitrogen as one of the major sources contributing to the persistent formation of the large hypoxic zone (“dead zone”) in the Gulf of Mexico. Members of the Task Force conducted a preliminary modeling/simulation study for 48 locations in an 8-state area of the Midwest (MN, IA, MO, IL, IN, OH, MI, and WI) where drainage water management could be effectively implemented on cropland with 0.5% slope or less. The simulations predicted a reduction in loss of 18.9 kg-N/ha/yr nitrate-Nitrogen from the Upper Mississippi River Basin to the Gulf of Mexico, and this represented a regional reduction of 51% over the long term.