Answering Questions About Ditch Bank Stabilization

Final Report for FNE96-140

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1996: $2,100.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1996
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $2,900.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
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Project Information


Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE96-140.

Through the thrips infestation portion of the growing season (6 weeks) the scout collected data on yellow sticky cards in the field. Sticky cards were set up in 6 fields (3 experimental, with fescue ditch banks and 3 control fields). Cards were set up in 4 areas of the field with 3 cards in the ditch, 3 in each of the next 3 bed rows. At the end of the season, being convinced that this is a very good soil conservation practice and seeing that it does not harm production, planted 10,000 more feet of ditch bank with fescue seed. No difference between seeded and conventional ditch thrips populations was found.

Costs: $44.85/year
-Fescue seed costs 1.35/lb. It takes a little over 11 lbs to see 1000 ft of ditch at 80 lbs/a/ 100 lbs will seed 9,000 linear ft. Therefore cost of seed for 1000 ft is $14.85.

-Equipment cost and labor cost to seed 1000 ft of ditch: tractor use, labor and fuel all combined to cost= $30.00

Savings: $588.25/year
- The cost of ditch digging is $120/1000 ft and needs to be done about every year without fescue and every second year with fescue planted on them. Ditch digging frequently is very dependent on yearly precipitation. Savings: $120/year

-Soil loss per 1000 linear ft of ditch is 270 cubic ft/year with vegetation and 900 cubic ft/year without. In other states muck can be sold. Peat much is sold for $20/yard3. That translates into a soil loss calculation of $200/1000 ft of ditch seeded and $667/1000 ft of unseeded ditch. Savings: $467/year.

-Herbicide savings: actual dollars to apply herbicide is very similar when comparing seeded to conventional. However, in all other terms (without doing a full EIQ) it is a savings of chemical and therefore of the environment. Risk to crop for ditch bank spraying with a non-selective herbicide is significant to both the grower and his neighbors.

Conventional (clean ditches): Requires 3 sprays with a non-selective herbicide such as Round-up ($59.11/gal). The rate is 2qt/A or .367qt/1000 ft of ditch. Each spray for 1000 ft of ditch costs $5.43. A season of applications sums at $16.29

With fescue: requires 2 sprays of broad-leaf killer such as Basagran ($81.45/gal). The rate is 2qt/A or .367/1000 ft of ditch. Each spray for 1000ft of ditch costs $7.52. A season of applications sums at $15.04.


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  • Maire Ullrich


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.