Crop & Pest Report

Accessibility


| Share

Rivers to Nowhere (05/21/15)

Now is a good time before bustling back to the field to drive around the fields and look, and take pictures and make notes of ditches that go nowhere.

Rivers to Nowhere

Now is a good time before bustling back to the field to drive around the fields and look, and take pictures and make notes of ditches that go nowhere. These are the long, thin lakes at the edges of many fields all across eastern North Dakota. Ditches were originally artifacts of building up the roadway, with I think little thought to actual drainage. Things are different now, and if there are some dusty township drainage district minutes from long ago, it is time to think about reviving them. Most interesting are the feverishly pumping tile drains going into the ditch, that goes nowhere and probably is recycled back underground into the field to be pumped into the ditch and so on and so on….

Where to start? Think about where the stream is. Maybe the land is so landlocked that some thought has to be given to eventually building a man-made wetland in part of a field just to hold the water. But let’s assume that looking over the landscape the general slope of the land goes towards a stream a few miles down the road. You look at the ditch. The culvert is half clogged with dirt and debris (it’s not soil in a culvert). Clean it out. The ditch has blown half full of soil from years of tillage. It’s time to dredge it out and put it back in the field, and reseed the ditch. Make sure it’s graded so it goes somewhere. Visit with neighbors and see about grading the rest of the ditch line so that when the water leaves your farm it doesn’t pond their farm and instead goes onward into the stream.  And don’t farm the ditch!

Tiling is Step One. Making sure the water can go somewhere is Step Two (actually it was Step One, but somehow it was skipped in 1920).

Dave Franzen

NDSU Extension Soil Specialist

Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.