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Ohio Wetland Reservoir Subirrigation System (WRSIS)

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  701P0304,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15716)
Keywords:   Subirrigation, Subsurface Drainage, Water Quality, Crop Yields, Wetlands, Water Table Management

An innovative agricultural water management practice involving capture, treatment, storage and reuse of drainage water is being tested in northwest Ohio with concurrent goals of reducing nonpoint source pollution from agricultural fields while improving crop yields and increasing wildlife habitat. A Wetland Reservoir Subirrigation System (WRSIS) is comprised of three interconnected components, a wetland, a water storage reservoir and cropland containing an underground pipe system for drainage or subirrigation depending on crop needs. Three test sites are in the Ohio portion of the Maumee River drainage basin and are located in Defiance, Fulton, and Van Wert counties. Average corn yields, through 6 or 7 years of operation, increased 591 kg ha-1, 3,790 kg ha-1, and 679 kg ha-1 at Defiance, Fulton and Van Wert, respectively. Average soybean yields, through 6 or 7 years of operation, increased 755 kg ha-1, 755 kg ha-1 and 391 kg ha-1 at Defiance, Fulton and Van Wert, respectively. Comparison of the water quality entering the wetland and water exiting the wetland at the Defiance County site showed an average reduction of total filterable solids of 74%, a reduction in nitrates of 51%, and a reduction in organic carbon of 62%. Similar results were found at the Fulton County location. In addition to monitoring wetland water quality we have an extensive shallow ground water monitoring program at the Defiance county site. Results from the lysimeters located at the Defiance county locations indicate that water in the subirrigated soils has greater EC than soils without subirrigation. Preliminary data from the WRSIS systems indicated that the system is meeting the goal of reducing non-point source pollution and increasing crop yields although further study is required to fully document the benefits.

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