Project exams role of mini-wetlands

Research into shallow depressions in western Kansas will examine what happens when crops are planted on the patches and how that affects the aquifer.

By

State News

May 25, 2021 - 9:01 AM

TOPEKA — New research on shallow depressions transformed into mini-wetlands by rainfall and runoff in western Kansas will examine consequences of planting crops on these patches and influence of that activity on the underground High Plains aquifer.

During wet periods these low spots in fields can hold water for weeks or months, host a variety of plants and attract eagles, swans, geese and pelicans. About four of every five of the 22,000 lagoon-like features in Kansas — called playas — have been cropped.

The Kansas Geological Survey and Kansas Biological Survey at the University of Kansas in conjunction with the University of Minnesota at Mankato and the University of Waterloo in Canada secured a $270,000 federal grant for a two-year research project. The idea is to consider the influence of farming on playas and to what degree agricultural activity altered recharge of the High Plains aquifer, also referred to as the Ogallala.

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