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Wetlands and Tile Drains

Overall project summary from the website of Dr. Jake Kerby:  Throughout South Dakota and much of the Midwest, agricultural contaminants are present in wetlands and may be responsible in part for regional species declines. A local factor contributing to elevated levels of contaminants in these wetlands is the presence of agricultural tile drains. These tile drains are corrugated plastic tubing or clay tiles that drain water off agricultural fields. Tile drainage can promote crop growth by removing excess water and salts from poorly drained soils. However, it can also transport contaminants (e.g., pesticides, fertilizers, metals) directly into nearby wetlands at concentrations above benchmarks for the protection of aquatic life. This project involves comparing wetland quality and biotic communities among reference (control), surface (receive surface runoff), and tile drain (receive subsurface tile drains) wetlands in eastern South Dakota.


The Jarchow Lab is contributing to this research by comparing the plant communities in these wetlands.  We are surveying the plant communities in the submerged, emergent, transitional, and upland zones of each of the wetlands in order to determine if the plant community composition differs among the reference, surface, and tile drain wetlands. 


Click here to see a video about the Wetland Tile Drainage Experiment.

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