Maybe you’ve seen the sizeable ditch systems on Midwestern farms? The two-tier ditch design has been in practice on Midwest farms for over a decade. Now, local farmers reap the benefits.

The project involves:

  • digging out the ditch banks two to three feet above the bottom of the existing ditch channel
  • creating a flat bench on both sides of the ditch
  • banks are graded 12-15 feet from the bench to the farm field on either side

The two-tiers, expansion and grading mimic a natural flood plain. It’s this natural flood plain design that allows more space for water to distribute during a flooding event.

How to Fund a Two-Tier Ditch Project

Funding for a project comes from various state agencies, nonprofit groups, and initiatives.

In this case, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) awarded funding to us (FNLC) by a grant made possible through the Clean Water Initiative Project (CWIP).

The CWIP funds, tracks, and reports on water quality projects to federal and state partners, and are charged with reducing phosphorus loads in Lake Champlain. Partnerships like this help them achieve these initiatives.

Two-Tier Ditch Solves Bouchard Farm Flooding Issues

Greg Bouchard, owner of Bouchard Family Dairy in Franklin, Vermont, realized a two-tier ditch could be a solution for his flooding field.

“When I saw the two-stage ditch design, I said; ‘I know of a good place for that, but how do we get that here’?”

Greg Bouchard

The Bouchards contacted us for assistance to navigate the process.

Luckily for the Bouchard Farm, a $47,000 grant was awarded to us to construct and install a two-tier ditch system on the farm.

The result? The new ditch system will reduce bank erosion and encourage settling of sediments on an intermediary bench during high flow water events. The system will also prevent phosphorus and pollutants from reaching other waterways.

Ongoing Monitoring of the Two-Tier Ditch Ensures Success

Seeding down around two-tier ditch
Bouchard Family Dairy Two-tier Ditch with native vegetation and seeding along banks.

Together with the Bouchard farm, we’ll be monitoring how well the ditch area respond to the installation.

When we monitor the system, we’re assessing the speed and absorption of water during high rainfall events. Ideally, water flow should progress slow enough through the two-tier ditch allowing for absorption in the designated area.

Additionally, native wetland plantings will reduce the amount of phosphorous washed into nearby waterways that feed Lake Champlain.

Evaluation of the soil surrounding the ditch will determine phosphorous loads before and after the project for five years.

Ultimately, federal and state agencies will share valuable information collected with Vermont farmers.

“We need to know how many pollutants, how much phosphorus the two-tier ditch is keeping out of Lake Champlain. By building and monitoring this sort of project on farms, we will have the necessary information.

The results from this pilot project will further development and implementation by landowners across the state to improve water quality.”

Dr. Kent Henderson, FNLC

Do You Think Your Land Might Benefit From This System?

Are you a landowner with a ditch that overflows during flooding events? Are you a farmer with flooding fields during heavy rain events, like the Bouchard’s?

Then you may be eligible for grant funding through the Agency of Natural Resources. We can provide assistance to get you through the grant and permitting process.

Manage Your Flooding Land with Two-Tier Ditch System Email us today.

“We’re always trying to do better”. “With these types of partnerships working for water quality and farming, we will.”

Greg Bouchard, Bouchard Family Dairy