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Constructed wetlands can significantly reduce water pollution from tile-drained farms

September 26, 2022  By Kristen Coyne | EOS Science News by AGU

This month, as the air begins to cool after a hot, dry summer, ears of field corn hang from brown, brittle stalks ready for harvest on a small central Illinois farm. Landowner John Franklin owes his yield, in no small part, to his farm’s former life as a wetland, which enriched the underlying soils over the many centuries preceding their conversion.

That occurred back in the 1950s, when Franklin’s father readied the land, previously used for grazing, for crops. As had many of his neighbors since the mid-1800s, he dug trenches several feet deep and buried tiles to drain excess subsurface water into nearby tributaries, creating a much more hospitable environment for his crops’ roots. In fact, by installing drain tiles below some 12 million acres of crops, the elder Franklin and his Prairie State peers created some of the most productive agricultural land in the country.

“In order to farm that, they had to drain them,” explains the younger Franklin, the fifth generation to work his family’s land outside Bloomington. | READ MORE


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