The Ditch Project
Integrated Agricultural Management
for Water Quality Protection

Collaborators University of Maryland Eastern Shore Agriculture Research Service

Improved Management of Agricultural Drainage Ditches for Water Quality Protection

August 2006 Field Tour and Symposium

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The Ditch Project is a collaboration between the University of Maryland College Park, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service in University Park, PA. We study the science and management of nutrient losses from ditch-drained agroecosystems and work with farmers and government agencies to develop and assess improved ditch management practices. Drainage ditches are an integral component of many agroecosystems, functioning to improve field drainage for crop production but also serving as key pathways of nutrient export. Our long-term goal is to develop and implement improved ditch management practices that increase economic profitability and reduce nutrient losses to the Chesapeake Bay and other impaired water bodies.


Project Objectives

  • Ensure profitability of agriculture and protect water quality by optimizing nutrient management.
  • Understand the fundamental processes of nutrient transport in drainage ditches across environmental conditions and spatially varying ditch characteristics.
  • Assess the benefits of water control structures and ditch clean-outs.
  • Model and interpret nutrient transport processes and the effects of ditch management practices at a watershed scale.
  • Provide outreach, educational, and research experimental learning opportunities for students and land managers on the management of ditch-drained agroecosystems.
SAWGAL Director - Dr. Brian Needelman - Office 301-405-8227 - Lab 301-405-1309 –
Last updated November 3, 2008 12:50 PM