Nutrient mitigation capacity in Mississippi Delta, USA drainage ditches

Eutrophication and hypoxia within aquatic systems are a serious international concern. Various management practices have been proposed to help alleviate nutrient loads transported to the Gulf of Mexico and other high-profile aquatic systems. The current study examined the nutrient mitigation capacity of a vegetated (V) and non-vegetated (NV) agricultural drainage ditch of similar size and landform in the Mississippi Delta. While no statistically significant differences in ammonium, nitrate, or dissolved inorganic phosphorus mitigation between the two ditches existed, there were significant differences in total inorganic phosphorus percent load reductions (V: 36% 4; NV: 71% 4). However, both agricultural drainage ditches were able to mitigate nutrients, thus reducing the load reaching downstream aquatic receiving systems. Further studies examining ecosystem dynamics within drainage ditches such as sediment and plant nutrient partitioning, as well as microbial processes involved, are needed to provide a better understanding of natural nutrient variability, seasonality and flux.