Wetland conversion in southeastern Missouri initiated with the Little River Drainage Project (1914–1924) resulting in the permanent drainage and conversion of 5 million acres (2 million hectares) to productive agricultural land. Given that this ancestral wetland conversion has totally replaced the wetland ecosystem with prime agricultural land and with this conversion, the loss of wildlife habitat is nearly complete, the question remains what actions are now possible to restore key wetland soil pathways to support soil health and water quality. Key to any corrective practices involves agricultural producer involvement and commitment. The emerging concept of soil health supports the use of cover crops that promote soil structure development and soil carbon sequestration, each perceived as supporting farm profitability. Government programs supporting field flooding during the off-season supports migratory water fowl. Farming practices such as furrow irrigation and allied technologies for rice production limit aquifer overdraft. Edge of field technology involving riparian strips and denitrification bioreactors support down-stream water quality by limiting nitrate and phosphate off-field migration. The result is that emerging technologies (i) support farm profitability and environmental stewardship and (ii) which are designed specifically to provide farming practice compatibility with the soil and water resources re-establishes some wetland mechanisms appropriate for long-term land and water resource sustainability.
Part of the book: Wetlands Management