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Vegetated Agricultural Drainage Ditches

Vegetated Agricultural Drainage Ditches
Project Information
Client State Water Resources Control Board
Type Research/demonstration project

Project Overview

This collaborative, research/demonstration project installed and tested the effectiveness of vegetated field drainage ditches field-tested in local fields planted with alfalfa and processing tomatoes. The YOLO RCD collected detailed monitoring data to assess the vegetation’s ability to filter and remove sediment, nutrients, and pesticides (diazinon and permethrin). Researchers developed a mathematical model to describe ditch processes, and assist in predicting the length of vegetation area needed, in order to significantly improve water quality. This system has already proven successful in Mississippi, and the Yolo County RCD project focused on adjusting those techniques to work well with California’s specific cropping practices, soils, and climate.

Project Description

Start date  
End date 2008
Type of Activity  
  • Study and model the efficacy and efficiency of vegetation in ag drainage ditches for mitigation of pesticides in ag runoff
  • Demonstrate vegetated ditch effectiveness for pesticide mitigation and toxicity reduction in cropped farm fields; extend information to farmers and others and support implementation of the management practice in the broader region for the purpose of improving quality of agricultural runoff


Site Name

Yolo County

Address Five tomato and alfalfa fields
Size (acres) Project sites varied from 1/2 an acre to 15 acres