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Research article2015Peer reviewed

A tool for assessing the status of drainage ditches and the need for remedial measures

Joel, Abraham; Wesström, Ingrid; Messing, Ingmar


Poor maintenance of drainage systems has been identified as one of Swedish agriculture's weak points, as impaired land drainage can lead to major environmental problems. Drain maintenance work is receiving increasing attention in work conducted within the European Union Water Framework Directive. Moreover, the functionality and maintenance of agricultural ditches will need to be improved to cope with predicted higher pressures on water infrastructure in a future climate. In Sweden, ditch maintenance work is mandatory, but must be carried out with great consideration for the environment. There is currently no simple method available in Sweden for assessing the comprehensive status of open drainage ditches and determining whether remedial measures are needed. This study tested an on-site method, Minnesota Agricultural Ditch Research Assessment for Stability, for evaluating the status of drains and the need for improvements. The study also included an evaluation of physical ditch properties that can be assessed visually on-site and the processes they represent. The results showed that it is viable to evaluate ditch properties such as bank stability, erosion and deposition susceptibility visually on-site. However, more intensive surveys are needed to identify the processes affecting bank stability. For assessing how improvement of drain status affects bank stability and hydraulic properties, Hydrologic Engineering Centre's River Analysis System simulations can be a useful tool when complemented with updated cross-section measurements and existing documentation.


HEC-RAS; ditch maintenance; MADRAS; flow capacity; bank stability

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil and Plant Science
2015, Volume: 65, number: Supplement 1, pages: 100-109
Publisher: Taylor & Francis: STM, Behavioural Science and Public Health Titles