Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 221:223 | Cite as

Evidence for the Use of Low-Grade Weirs in Drainage Ditches to Improve Nutrient Reductions from Agriculture

  • Robert KrögerEmail author
  • Matthew T. Moore
  • Jerry L. Farris
  • Mathangi Gopalan


Typical controlled drainage structures in drainage ditches provide drainage management strategies for isolated temporal periods. Innovative, low-grade weirs are anticipated to provide hydraulic control on an annual basis, as well as be installed at multiple sites within the drainage ditch for improved spatial biogeochemical transformations. This study provides evidence toward the capacity of low-grade weirs for nutrient reductions, when compared to the typical controlled drainage structure of a slotted riser treatment. Three ditches with weirs were compared against three ditches with slotted risers, and two control ditches for hydraulic residence time (HRT) and nutrient reductions. There were no differences in water volume or HRT between weired and riser systems. Nutrient concentrations significantly decreased from inflow to outflow in both controlled drainage strategies, but there were few statistical differences in N and P concentration reductions between controlled drainage treatments. Similarly, there were significant declines in N and P loads, but no statistical differences in median N and P outflow loads between weir (W) and riser (R) ditches for dissolved inorganic phosphate (W, 92%; R, 94%), total inorganic phosphate (W, 86%; R, 88%), nitrate-N (W, 98%; R, 96%), and ammonium (W, 67%; R, 85%) when nutrients were introduced as runoff events. These results indicate the importance of HRT in improving nutrient reductions. Low-grade weirs should operate as important drainage control structures in reducing nutrient loads to downstream receiving systems if the hydraulic residence time of the system is significantly increased with multiple weirs, as a result of ditch length and slope.


Agriculture Drainage Ditch Wetland Nutrients 



The authors wish to thank Arkansas State University for the use of the artificial drainage systems, Renee Russell for nutrient analyses, and staff, ecologists, and biologists in the Water Quality Ecology Unit for comments and reviews on earlier drafts of the manuscript. Special acknowledgments go to Lisa Brooks for all the organizational tasks, management, and coordination of water quality samples. The authors would also like to thank the comments from anonymous reviewers who gratefully gave their time to substantially improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Kröger
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew T. Moore
    • 2
  • Jerry L. Farris
    • 3
  • Mathangi Gopalan
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and AquacultureMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.USDA-Agricultural Research Service, National Sedimentation Laboratory, Water Quality and Ecology Research UnitOxfordUSA
  3. 3.Arkansas Biosciences InstituteArkansas State UniversityState University JonesboroUSA

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