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Posted on August 20, 2018 at 8:42 PM by Ryan Hiniker
Drainage update 8/20/2018
Upcoming Drainage Hearings or Meetings:
Drainage Water Management Day:
Last Thursday, August 16, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a U of M Drainage Water Management Demonstration day in Lamberton, Minnesota. This was a field day centered around drainage professionals. Many different state agencies where in attendance, including multiple SWCD districts from across the state.
Multiple different scientists from the University of Minnesota were in attendance to present and discuss projects in water quality that they have been working on. There are multiple outreach and research facilities that the U of M manages all across the state. Not all of the research sites study water quality and drainage. Lamberton is a good location for this sort of testing as this is a very heavily agricultural area of the state. This drainage testing facility has been around for a number of years, but this is my first experience with it.
The majority of the day was an actual in-field tour of the four major testing sites for water quality practices. The first stop was at a wetland testing area. They had many different types of wetlands on display. What made them different was how each one managed water into and out of the wetland.
Stop number two was a bioreactor testing site. This was one of the most interesting stops for me. They had many small bioreactor simulations set up testing many different things like trying to remove nitrates and phosphorus. The U of M is even experimenting with using some alternative materials and trying to combine them into a sort of “super” bioreactor. These new generation bioreactors are supposed to collect and remove both nitrates and phosphorus particles in the water. The primary concern of the research for the moment is the nitrates in the water. Phosphorus studies are still being conducted also.
Third stop of the tour took us to a demonstration of their “in-stream ditches” test area. This is an area where they have three open ditch channels that collect all of the water passing through the 100 plus acre farm. Two of the channels are currently being used to conduct testing on peak flows and sediment, side intakes, and storage or temporary impoundment of water.
The fourth and final stop was to look at and discuss cover crop and cropping management. This was also a very interesting stop for me because they showed how they are using different cover crops to prevent erosion and manage soil health. One of the key crops that they spoke about and are testing heavily is Camelina. I spoke last week in my blog about this cover crop and the potential uses and benefits it could have. It was very interesting to see first hand just how it works out in the field. It was interesting to hear how easy it is to work with and the benefits they are seeing from it through their research.
The field day was very well put together and the information was great. It is always interesting to go and learn from of some of the best in the industry. Not to toot our own horn in Blue Earth County, but many of these practices that they spoke about on the tour are already in practice somewhere in Blue Earth County. We are very active in installing alternative side-intakes and using both on-channel and off-channel storage. We have tried two-stage ditches and we are looking to possibly install a few smaller bioreactors. We are always looking for new and better ways of improving water quality.
Recent Drainage Inspections – week of August 13 – August 17:
We require that all repairs to a county drainage system (tile or open ditch) be authorized by one us in the drainage office, either Craig or myself, before any repairs are made.
Drainage Management Specialist