Innovative drainage systems help eliminate pollutants

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind (WLFI) – Water conservationists at a Purdue Extension farm are coming up with new ways to keep pollutants from being flushed into major waterways.

Scientists at Throckmorton Agricultural Center in Tippecanoe County are treating water runoff from fields.

First, wood chips are buried under topsoil on the edge of a field to create a nitrate filtering system called a bioreactor. Nitrates are pollutants found in commonly used fertilizer.

The water then runs into a two-stage ditch system. This drainage ditch is lined with natural plants, which help eliminate nitrates.

Water conservationist Ben Reinhart said these new designs have a future with Indiana farmers.

“Any conservation practice has its right place and right implementation. Nothing can be applied everywhere, but I do think there is a lot of potential in agricultural systems in Indiana to utilize these drainage practices,” said Reinhart.

Wells County surveyor Jarrod Hahn said similar drainage systems are being used in his county. He said he is always looking for new ways to keep rivers clean.

“Anybody that is doing something. Not all research is bad and not all research is good,” said Hahn. “But if you’re doing something, that is the key.”

The two-stage ditch is home to many small fish species. These fish are studied to see how well they survive in the treated water.

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