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Extension > Agriculture > Crops > Agricultural drainage > Science of drainage > Drainage fact sheet

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Drainage fact sheet

Gary R. Sands

Drainage status

minnesota-map

Minnesota has more than 21,000 miles of ditches and channelized streams (shown in red, above: source, DNR), which serve as the drainage infrastructure for the agricultural reguions of Minnesota. Meeting water quality drainage needs for agriculture is a current priority.

stream

Gary R. Sands, University of Minnesota

Drainage benefits and impacts

research

Jonathan Chapman Extensive research is underway exploring opportunities to mitigate unwanted environmental effects while maintaining agricultural productivity

"Conservation drainage" practices include:

  • Nutrient BMP's
  • Controlled drainage or "drainage water management"
  • Two-stage ditches
  • Shallow drainage
  • Reduce drainage intensity
  • Woodchip bioreactors
  • Improved surface inlets
  • Improved side inlets
  • Winter cover crops
  • Wetland restoration
  • Nutrient retention basins
research

Gary R. Sands, University of Minnesota

Drainage water management

Drainage water management design (below left) calls for dividing the field into water control/management zones, aligning laterals with the field contours, and using control structures. Annual subsurface flow and nitrate reductions from 10 to 50% may be possible.

Extensive research is underway exploring opportunities to mitigate unwanted environmental effects while maintaining agricultural productivity

control-zones

Gary R. Sands, University of Minnesota

water-control-structures

R. Cooke, University of Illinois

Water control structures enable shallower water tables to be achieved, conserving water and nutrients in the soil profile.

adjusting structure

USDA-ARS

Water control structures are manually adjusted or can be automated, if desired.

Further reading and information

M1292 2010

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