Drainage Contractor

Preliminary findings from saturated buffer research

April 5, 2016  By Drainage Contractor administrator

Springfield Plastics Inc., in conjunction with the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), has released preliminary water quality results for 2014 from their saturated buffer systems, which remove nitrate from water flowing in underground field drainage tiles before it reaches streams, rivers and other waterways.

Springfield Plastics has been working with the Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition on a project spanning 15 sites across Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota to study how saturated buffers work under different conditions and other conservation practices.

Saturated buffer systems have a control structure that diverts the flow from the tile outlet to a lateral distribution line in a buffer strip. The lateral distribution line runs parallel to the buffer, and as the water is diverted to this line, saturation occurs. As this saturation, or lateral water movement through the buffer occurs, the vegetation, soil organisms and denitrification naturally removes nutrients like nitrate that are in the water, thus reducing the nitrates discharged to the streams.

The preliminary 2014 findings show the nitrate concentrations in the streamside inspections are lower than the levels in the field tile prior to being diverted to the buffer. These findings were consistent across all 15 sites.


Research will continue and further findings will be reported. For additional information please contact Steve Baker with Springfield Plastics at (217) 438-6167.


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