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Courtesy The Nature Conservancy
The areas highlighted in red, yellow and orange are selected watersheds that are eligible, according to The Nature Conservancy.

Verbatim: Ditch aid available for farmers on Wabash River

Statement as distributed Thursday by The Nature Conservancy:

(Winamac, Indiana) Farmers in ten counties in the Wabash River watershed are eligible to receive financial support for installing Two-Stage Ditches along their agricultural fields. The financial assistance comes from the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative (MRBI). The MRBI aims to improve water quality across the Mississippi River Watershed, which includes the Wabash River.

Much of the Wabash River basin, a large river watershed that ultimately drains to the Gulf of Mexico, has been converted to artificially-drained row-crop agriculture. This conversion causes river overflows because the drainage infrastructure cannot handle today’s water, nutrient and sediment loads. The Two-Stage Ditch enhances the ability to remove sediments and nutrients, while allowing for sufficient water flows, added capacity, and drainage.

“If a farmer wants to improve the capacity of his ditch, reduce ponding in his field, reduce flooding, or if he has a ditch that has bank slumping or capacity issues, the Two-Stage Ditch can help,” said Kent Wamsley of The Nature Conservancy. Individuals are encouraged to contact Wamsley to learn more about the Two-Stage. “When the landowner is ready, we will coordinate with County Drainage Boards, surveyors, and local conservation staff to get the project going.”

The Two-Stage Ditch is a more permanent solution to the stresses that ditches face. By reducing the maintenance needs of a ditch, there is a greater long-term benefit, both environmentally and economically. The Two-Stage Ditch design balances production demands with water quality needs.

Indiana is one of 12 states that will receive additional Farm Bill dollars for the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed Initiative. The MRBI helps producers implement conservation practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; and maintain agricultural productivity.

Successful applicants for MRBI financial assistance could receive up to $8.49/ linear foot to install Two-Stage Ditches.

More information about Two-Stage Ditches can be found at nature.org/2stageditch or www.in.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/MRBI/MRBI_homepage.html. Landowners in the highlighted counties wanting to apply for the MRBI funding will need to contact their local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Office, Soil and Water Conservation District Office, or Kent Wamsley at (574) 946-7491 or kwamsley@tnc.org to learn more about the Two-Stage Ditch.

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