Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Aquanette Sanders, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Class Year: 

Project Title: 

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Controlled Structures in Agricultural Fields


Farmers have increased farm yields to help sustain the growing human population by adding nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilizers and ditches to their fields. However, these ditches allow excess water containing N and P to leave farm fields quickly and enter nearby rivers, lakes, and estuaries and cause eutrophication. Drainage control structures is a management practice used to decrease the amount of N and P leaving the fields. My project focuses on how effectively drainage control structures decrease the outflow of water from the field by testing the amount of water flowing around the drainage control structure through groundwater. The groundwater around a free flowing ditch (control) and controlled drainage ditch (treatment) was sampled and measured for water level over the summer to compare the discharge and amount of nitrate (NO3-) around each ditch. There was no significant difference in discharge between the two ditches (P< 0.001) However, there was a significant difference in NO3- flux between the two ditches (P= 0.019).