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60 Ways Farmers Can Protect  Surface Water
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23. Maintain Your Drainage System To Protect Surface Water

Drainage pipe Drainage systems can improve production and protect surface water by preventing excess water on the soil surface from moving as runoff, carrying sediment and other contaminants into streams and lakes.

However, University of Illinois research has shown that there are cases in which drainage systems can contribute to contamination problems. Subsurface drainage systems can channel nitrate through its drain tiles and directly into streams, rivers, and lakes.

Drainage pipe and stream If you hope to reap the economic and environmental benefits of your drainage system, proper maintenance is essential. For subsurface systems, regularly make sure outlet ditches are not blocked with sediment and inlet covers are not sealed with debris.
Broken Tile If tile is broken, replace it, and remove water-loving trees, such as willow, elm, soft maple, and cottonwood from within 100 feet of the drain. Check for the buildup of ochre, an iron oxide that may block the drain.
Drainage ditch With surface drainage systems, regularly inspect the outlet channel and ditches after each heavy rain and remove silt deposits or other obstructions. Brushy types of vegetation, such as cattails, willows, and cottonwoods, are a menace to surface ditches. Cut or spray them once or twice each year as needed.
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