Two-Stage Ditch Symposium

On September 16, 2011, the Great Lakes Regional Water Project sponsored a symposium on alternatives to traditional agricultural drainage channels. Below are links to recordings of the symposium presentations.  For more information on alternative agricultural ditch design for water quality, go to [insert new two-stage ditch site when its available].

Background: Drainage channels in agricultural watersheds have been constructed and maintained to maximize the transport of water off of the land to improve soil conditions for planting, growing, and harvesting crops. This approach to drainage management has been very effective for increasing the amount of productive cropland in Ohio and around the Great Lakes region. However, this emphasis on drainage has had some negative consequences on other important watershed services, including in-stream habitat and increased sediment and nutrient transport to rivers and lakes downstream of agricultural land. Some researchers and soil and water managers are taking a closer look at the design of agricultural ditches to determine if alternatives to the traditional trapezoidal channel could restore some aquatic habitat and sediment and nutrient storage functions to our agricultural drainage networks. The purpose of this symposium was to bring together experts in the field of ecological engineering, stream ecology, and fluvial geomorphology to share research findings on alternatives to traditional agricultural drainage ditches, including two-stage and self-forming channels.