Event Title

Exploring the Effects of Agricultural Drainage Tiles on Depth of Erosion in the Vermilion Watershed, Northern Ohio

Presenter Information

Sylvia Woodmansee, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center, Bent Corridor

Start Date

9-26-2014 12:00 PM

End Date

9-26-2014 1:20 PM

Research Program

Johnetta B. Cole Scholar

Poster Number

10

Abstract

This study looks at the relationship among agricultural land use, drainage tiles, and depth of erosion in the Vermilion watershed in Northern Ohio. Land use in the Vermilion watershed is primarily agricultural, and many farmers use drainage tiles to combat the effects of compacted and clayey soil. Drainage tiles are installed three to six feet below the ground surface and direct water from fields to ditches, streams, and other channels. The use of drainage tiles has been a common practice for decades in the Midwestern United States, but despite their widespread use, their effects on erosion are not yet fully understood. This study analyzes twenty-six samples collected by a past student in the Vermilion River watershed in Erie, Huron, and Lorain counties. I use Cs-137 gamma spectrometry and Powder X-Ray Diffraction (PXRD) to track the movement and relative weathering of sediments. Cs-137 is a ‘man-made’ fallout radionuclide generated by nuclear weapons testing from the mid 1950s to early 1970s, and can be used to trace the movement of soils and sediments. Using a germanium detector, we measured concentrations of Cs-137 to look for correlations between location of drainage tiles and Cs-137 activity. This study also uses X-Ray Diffraction techniques to determine what, if any, effect the drainage tiles have on the minerals present and composition of minerals in the sediments. Understanding drainage tiles could give us information about soil loss. If drainage tiles are correlated with topsoil loss, then this is an important consideration for those who work in agriculture and want to main soil quality while draining the land for agricultural purposes.

Award

Oberlin College Research Fellowship (OCRF)

Project Mentor(s)

Amanda Schmidt, Geology

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Sep 26th, 12:00 PM Sep 26th, 1:20 PM

Exploring the Effects of Agricultural Drainage Tiles on Depth of Erosion in the Vermilion Watershed, Northern Ohio

Science Center, Bent Corridor

This study looks at the relationship among agricultural land use, drainage tiles, and depth of erosion in the Vermilion watershed in Northern Ohio. Land use in the Vermilion watershed is primarily agricultural, and many farmers use drainage tiles to combat the effects of compacted and clayey soil. Drainage tiles are installed three to six feet below the ground surface and direct water from fields to ditches, streams, and other channels. The use of drainage tiles has been a common practice for decades in the Midwestern United States, but despite their widespread use, their effects on erosion are not yet fully understood. This study analyzes twenty-six samples collected by a past student in the Vermilion River watershed in Erie, Huron, and Lorain counties. I use Cs-137 gamma spectrometry and Powder X-Ray Diffraction (PXRD) to track the movement and relative weathering of sediments. Cs-137 is a ‘man-made’ fallout radionuclide generated by nuclear weapons testing from the mid 1950s to early 1970s, and can be used to trace the movement of soils and sediments. Using a germanium detector, we measured concentrations of Cs-137 to look for correlations between location of drainage tiles and Cs-137 activity. This study also uses X-Ray Diffraction techniques to determine what, if any, effect the drainage tiles have on the minerals present and composition of minerals in the sediments. Understanding drainage tiles could give us information about soil loss. If drainage tiles are correlated with topsoil loss, then this is an important consideration for those who work in agriculture and want to main soil quality while draining the land for agricultural purposes.