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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Use of Unchannelized Agricultural Streams as a Guiding Image for Restoring Agricultural Drainage Ditches

item Smiley, Peter - Rocky
item King, Kevin
item Fausey, Norman - Norm

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/23/2009
Publication Date: 3/20/2010
Citation: Smiley, P.C., King, K.W., Fausey, N.R. 2010. Use of Unchannelized Agricultural Streams as a Guiding Image for Restoring Agricultural Drainage Ditches. Meeting Abstract.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Agricultural drainage ditches or channelized headwater streams are a common landscape feature in the Midwestern United States. These streams have been channelized and maintained for removal of excess water from agricultural fields without regard for the aquatic biota. The use of pristine forested watersheds as a guiding image for restoring drainage ditches has been perceived as unrealistic. We explored the potential of using unchannelized headwater streams with predominately agricultural landuse in the watershed as the guiding image for restoration of drainage ditches in a central Ohio watershed. We sampled geomorphology, riparian vegetation, hydrology, water chemistry, and fishes in two channelized and two unchannelized headwater streams in the Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed from January 2005 to December 2006. We compared abiotic and biotic characteristics of channelized and unchannelized streams to identify potential restoration strategies. Channelized streams contained greater cross-section area and top bank width than unchannelized streams. Unchannelized streams had a greater density of woody vegetation and woody to herbaceous vegetation ratio than channelized streams. Unchannelized streams had greater water velocity and wet width during baseflow conditions than channelized streams. Loadings of nutrients and pesticides were greater in channelized than unchannelized streams. Channelized streams had a greater percentage minnows (Cyprinidae) and less percentage darters (Percidae) than unchannelized streams. Our results assisted with developing restoration strategies for agricultural drainage ditches that incorporated agricultural land use within the watershed. Additionally, our use of unchannelized headwater streams as a guiding image identified potential goals typically not considered when designing restoration strategies.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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