Rural drainage systems or ditches are networks of manmade and natural drainage ways where water flows from individual farms, home lots, and rural residential communities. Two-stage ditches or ?natural channel? designs incorporate floodplain zones that increase the volume of water the ditch can hold and process, especially during times of high flow, effectively increasing the function of the ditch and the ecological function of the stream.
Photo credit: Gustavus Adolphus College Geography Blog: http://geography.blog.gustavus.edu/2010/05/19/660/
Alternative designs for drainage ditches, such as those that restore or maintain natural stream functions and characteristics, can lower the amount of time it takes to manage property in and around the ditch (e.g. , reducing mowing and weed removal) and enhance the overall health of the stream.
Although newer alternative designs for drainage systems have lower maintenance costs long term, they are more expensive to install then a traditional ditch system.
You can find out more information on agricultural draining and two-stage ditches on Ohio State University?s Natural Channel Design site and Ohioline - Agricultural Drainage site. Ohio State University Extension?s Ohio Watershed Network?s Two-Stage Ditch Symposium features speakers who discuss alternative Best Management Practices, two-stage ditch economics, and other benefits of using two-stage ditches.