Water recycling in agricultural landscapes

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Drained agricultural landscapes within the U.S. Midwest are faced with the challenge of addressing both excess and deficit water conditions, often within the same year, while also minimizing negative impacts on water quality and the environment. Drainage water recycling, the practice of capturing and storing water drained from fields and using the stored water to irrigate crops when there is a soil water deficit, has been proposed to increase the resiliency of drained agriculture, but the potential benefits have not been measured. A study led Benjamin Reinhard and Professor Jane Frankenberger (Agricultural and Biological Engineering) with collaborators from the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa State University, investigated irrigation and nutrient reduction benefits of drainage water recycling at two tile-drained sites in the U.S. Midwest with differing climates and soils. Their results show that water storage is a promising new practice for the tile-drained landscape of the U.S. Midwest, providing a strategy for agricultural producers to manage water-related risks to crop production while also contributing to water quality goals.

Reinhart, B. D., J. R. Frankenberger, C. H. Hay, and M.J. Helmers (2019). Simulated water quality and irrigation benefits from drainage water recycling at two tile-drained sites in the US Midwest. Agricultural Water Management, 223, p.105699.

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