WHAT WE DO
Conservation drainage practices (CDP) may enhance subsurface drainage water management systems and complement other drainage practices for agricultural producers to reduce nutrient transport from tiles during the fallow season, to reduce water deficit stress during the growing season, and to provide an additional tool for producers to enhance wildlife habitat during the off-season.
Three CDP that can be easily adapted to existing or new systems are;
• Drainage Water Management (DWM)
• Saturated Buffers
These practices may be installed and used by themselves or in combination with each other.
The article, “Draining the Land Without Polluting the Waters,” states that Drainage Water Management (DWM), particularly the use of “control structures,” can reduce nitrate runoff nationwide by as much as forty percent. New research from the University of Illinois shows that drainage water management even reduces phosphorus runoff, drainage water management systems could become a very popular conservation tool that farmers use in the Upper Mississippi drainage basin, thus producing better water and higher crop yields for decades to come.
Bioreactors can be easily retro-fitted into existing subsurface drainage systems to do edge of field treatment of drainage water to reduce nitrates. Bioreactors have been installed and demonstrated for several years in several states and have been shown to effectively reduce nitrate levels.
Buffer strips along ditches and stream have been used extensively across the Corn Belt to slow down erosion and reduce sedimentation into water courses. However, they can be improved by converting them to Saturated Buffers by installing close-spaced subsurface drainage pipe and control structures on the outlet pipes to raise the water table and slow down the outflows of water entering or flowing over existing buffers. ADMC is currently working with NRCS to get this approved as a conservation practice allowing for EQIP funding.