Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 1998


Published in Great Plains Research 8 (Spring 1998):97-112. Copyright © 1998 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Used by permission.


Many wetlands in the prairie pothole region are embedded within an agricultural landscape where they are subject to varying degrees of siltation. Cultivation of wetland catchment areas has exacerbated soil erosion; wetlands in agricultural fields receive more sediment from upland areas than wetlands in grassland landscapes and hence are subject to premature filling (i.e., they have shorter topographic lives). Associated impacts from increased turbidity, sediment deposition, and increased surface water input likely have impaired natural wetland functions. Although trapping of sediments by wetlands is often cited as a water quality benefit, sediment input from agricultural fields has potential to completely fill wetlands and shorten their effective life-span. Thus, the value placed on wetlands to trap sediments is in conflict with maximizing the effective topographic life of wetlands. Herein, we provide an overview of sedimentation, identify associated impacts on wetlands, and suggest remedial management strategies. We also highlight the need to evaluate the impact of agricultural practices on wetland functions from an interdisciplinary approach to facilitate development of best management practices that benefit both wetland and agricultural interests.