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Vegetated Agricultural Drainage Ditches
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In 2000, Dr. Moore, began intensively studying drainage ditches surrounding agricultural fields.  His hypothesis was that these often-ignored landscape features may be providing valuable ecosystem services such as nutrient and pesticide mitigation of runoff water.  Taking the lead on the project, Dr. Moore was supported by his former ARS colleagues Dr. Charlie Cooper (Ecologist) and Mr. Sammie Smith (Chemist), and the trio began studying effects of vegetated drainage ditches on agricultural runoff in the Mid-South.

Initial success of studies began drawing both national and international attention.  Collaborators were interested in transferring the technology to places outside the lower Mississippi Delta.  Dr. Debra Denton (USEPA Region 9) worked with Dr. Moore, leading the Central Valley (California) Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Sacramento River (California) Watershed Basin Team to adopt the vegetated drainage ditch concept for mitigation of dormant orchard pesticide runoff.  After obtaining grant funding, Drs. Moore and Denton partnered again with other Federal, state and local agencies, as well as the University of California-Davis, to further examine ditch mitigation ability in California.  In 2008, the California NRCS adopted practice 607A (Surface Drainage Field Ditch - Vegetated Agricultural Drainage Ditch) as an EQIP-approved BMP.  Also in 2008, the Mississippi NRCS released practice 607A (Vegetative Agricultural Drain) based on Dr. Moore's research. 607A-Vegetative Agricultural Drain Farm Bill Implementation - Water Quality



In 2005, collaborative partner Dr. Jerry Farris at Arkansas State University constructed a "ditch farm" on the ASU campus to allow for repeated small-scale field simulations to enhance drainage ditch research.  Multiple experiments have examined the effects of low-grade weirs on nutrient mitigation by vegetated ditches.  Additional experiments have studied for potential effects of vegetation maintenance (mowing) on nutrient retention in ditches both in the summer and winter.  ASU doctoral students have also modified studies for stream metabolism evaluations to the ditch setting, resulting in some of the first established ditch metabolism research in agricultural settings.  The strong partnership between the WQERU and Arkansas State University collaborators continue to foster innovative studies while supporting STEM research, particularly among underrepresented groups.


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