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Increasing adoption of saturated buffers through data

December 4, 2020  By Bree Rody

Ehsan Ghane has a goal: to increase the adoption of saturated buffers in drainage systems, improving water quality on farms in Michigan and Iowa.

Ghane, assistant professor and extension specialist in the Michigan State University department of biosystems and agricultural engineering, is among the growing number of professionals singing the praises of saturated buffers which help reduce nitrate loss into surface water. His aim is to create a data-powered online decision-support tool, which will tell users the most cost-effective ways to reduce nitrate loss on their farm.

Ghane will receive a $614,000 grant over three years from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in order to realize that goal.

His co-investigator on the project is Pouyan Nejadhashemi, MSU foundation professor in the department of biosystems and agricultural engineering. He is leading the group that will design a user-friendly online platform which integrates the saturated buffer routine, drainage model and nitrate removal component. Economic and environmental aspects will be factored into the decision-making.


Field experiments to collect data will take place in Iowa and southeast Michigan. Following completion of the tool, the team will bring their findings to farmers, watershed coordinators drainage experts and other professionals through an educational workshop.

The team also includes Manal H. Askar, research associate in biosystems and agricultural engineering, and Babak Saravi, research specialist in biosystems and agricultural engineering. The team is collaborating with Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, Purdue University and the Iowa Soybean Association.

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