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Drainage control and water recycling to reduce nutrient loadings to Great Lakes

Tan, C. S. and Zhang, T. Q. 2016. Drainage control and water recycling to reduce nutrient loadings to Great Lakes. Oral presentation at 59th International Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research, University of Guelph, Canada, June 6-10.


There is a strong public demand for a safe and secure water supply. Non-point source pollutions from agricultural lands have become a big concern in the Great Lakes. Algal blooms have posed serious risks to drinking water supplies, ecosystems and the economy. A cost effective drainage water management & water recycling study was conducted in southern Ontario to improve water and nutrient management while protecting the environment and ensuring food safety and quality. The objectives of these studies were to determine the effectiveness of the innovative drainage water management systems for reducing nutrient loadings and improving crops performance. The control drainage/subirrigation (CDS)-reservoir water recycling system under no-till field crop production reduced total P and N losses by 12% and 21% relative to the regular free drainage (RFD) system, respectively. This system consistently increased corn and soybean yields relative to RFD system. The drainage control (CD) only system under no-till reduced total P and N losses by 25 % and 16 % compared to RFD. However, the CD system under conventional till reduced total P and N losses by 13% and 7 % relative to RFD, respectively. There was limited yield increase from CD system under both no-till and conventional tillage. The drip irrigation water recycling system for processing tomatoes increased water and nutrient use efficiency by 25 % and 35 % compared to non-irrigated system.

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