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Purdue field day to feature conservation drainage practices

June 11, 2014

An innovative, two-stage conservation drainage ditch and nitrate-reducing system will be showcased at a June 17 field day sponsored by Purdue Extension.

The Conservation Drainage Field Day will be held 9-10:30 a.m. at the Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center at 8348 U.S. 231, south of Lafayette. A two-stage ditch and denitrifying bioreactor were installed at the center in 2012 to gauge their water quality impacts. Recent results will be revealed at the field day.

Attendees will also learn how vegetation has been established in the ditch, how fish communities in the ditch are affected, and how a bioreactor can reduce nitrate loads in drainage water.

Nitrate is a pollutant that can harm downstream water bodies. Conservation drainage systems are created to remove the nutrient.

The two-stage ditch system removes nutrients and is better stabilized than traditional drainage ditches because the channel is bordered by flood plains that lay at the bottom of a more gradual incline. A denitrifying bioreactor uses buried woodchips to treat nitrate.

Attendees can also see grass and tree crops planted for potential use as bioenergy crops at the center. Switchgrass, Miscanthus, and poplar trees are being grown to understand their yield potential and to understand runoff and water quality from these crops.

Topics and speakers:

* "Denitrifying Bioreactor." Jane Frankenberger, Purdue agricultural engineer, and Erin Chinchlowski, graduate student.

* "Two-Stage Ditch Construction and Water Quality Impacts." Laura Bowling, Purdue hydrologist, and Andi Hodaj, graduate student.

* "Two-Stage Ditch Fish Communities." Reuben Goforth, Purdue aquatic ecologist.

* "Bioenergy Crops Surface Water Impacts." Indrajeet Chaubey, Purdue ecohydrologist.

The event is free and open to the public. Those interested should register online at https://engineering.purdue.edu/watersheds/event/twostage/. The field day is co-sponsored by Wabash River Enhancement Corporation and the Tippecanoe County Soil and Water Conservation District.

For more information, contact Frankenberger at 765-494-1194, frankenb@purdue.edu, or Jay Young, 765-538-3422.

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