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Nutrient Mitigation Efficiency in Agricultural Drainage Ditches: An Influence of Landscape Management

Abstract

Drainage systems are integral parts of agricultural landscapes and have the ability to intercept nutrient loading from runoff to surface water. This study investigated nutrient removal efficiency within replicated experimental agricultural drainage ditches during a simulated summer runoff event. Study objectives were to examine the influence of routine mowing of vegetated ditches on nutrient mitigation and to assess spatial transformation of nutrients along ditch length. Both mowed and unmowed ditch treatments decreased NO3 -N by 79 % and 94 % and PO4 3− by 95 % and 98 %, respectively, with no significant difference in reduction capacities between the two treatments. This suggests occasional ditch mowing as a management practice would not undermine nutrient mitigation capacity of vegetated drainage ditches.

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Acknowledgments

The authors will like to thank Traci Hudson, Ethan Leonard, Geoffrey Pyne and Levi Hass for laboratory and technical assistance. We also thank Mr. Mike Johnson, ASU Farm Facility Manager and Arkansas State University College of Agriculture and Technology for providing the research field site. This research was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, ARS Cooperative Agreement 58-6408-9-351 and the Judd Hill Foundation.

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Correspondence to Jerry L. Farris.

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Iseyemi, O.O., Farris, J.L., Moore, M.T. et al. Nutrient Mitigation Efficiency in Agricultural Drainage Ditches: An Influence of Landscape Management. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 96, 750–756 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-016-1783-x

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Keywords

  • Ditches
  • Nutrients
  • Flow rates
  • Runoff