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Drainage

The usual agricultural scenario after forests have been ripped down and burned is to then tile drain the land. Tile drainage is a network of underground pipes (often called "tiles") that drain excess water from fields. While tile drainage can provide benefits to agriculture, it can also have negative impacts on waterways and the environment.


One of the most significant concerns associated with tile drainage is the excessive release of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, into water bodies. These nutrients come from agricultural fertilizers and manure applied to fields. When excess nutrients enter rivers, lakes, and streams, they can cause eutrophication, a process in which algal blooms grow rapidly and consume oxygen, leading to "dead zones" and harming aquatic life.


Pesticides used in agriculture can also be transported through tile drainage systems and end up in waterways. This can have adverse effects on aquatic organisms, disrupting ecosystems and posing risks to both human and wildlife health.


Tile drainage can alter the natural flow patterns of streams and rivers. During dry periods, the rapid removal of water from fields can reduce the natural flow in streams, potentially harming aquatic habitats and the organisms that depend on consistent water levels.


While tile drainage can help alleviate waterlogging in wet periods, it can also contribute to water scarcity in drier periods. The removal of water from fields can exacerbate the effects of droughts, which are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change.

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