Monday, January 7, 2013

U.S. farmers can reduce agricultural pollution with drainage ditches

The modern agriculture is heavily connected with the use of different herbicides and insecticides. The heavy use of pesticides has led to agricultural pollution and scientists have started looking for ways to reduce the levels of agricultural pollutants in order to protect the health of nearby ecosystems and maintain their useful services.

Judging by the latest study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture there is one very simple and also cost-effective solution to reduce the levels of agricultural pollution – by just using drainage ditches.

The drainage ditches are currently mostly used to provide passage for channeling excess water from crop fields, and farmers often trim or dredge ditches to eliminate plant barriers that could impede the flow of runoff.

Drainage ditches are cost-effective solution against agricultural pollution.

In their study, the U.S. scientists U.S. Department of Agriculture have showed that ditches could be also used to transport and capture pesticides (in this study scientists made experiments with herbicide atrazine and insecticide lambda-cyhalothrin).

The researchers started a simulation event, and discovered that at the end of the ditch, runoff pesticide concentrations have declined to levels that were generally non-toxic to downstream aquatic fauna.

What this means is that these drainage ditches, which are commonly found across the entire United States, give farmers a cost-effective alternative for reducing the level of agricultural pollutants and thus protecting natural resources (healthy ecosystems).

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state office in California has even included vegetated agricultural drainage in their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) under which farmers who installed drainage ditches would get 50% of their costs covered.

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