Effective water management helps ensure good yields, nutrient balance, and water protection. Measures such as controlled subsurface drainage, two-stage ditches, flood meadows, natural stream beds, and irrigation water storage help solids settle on the banks of ditches or streams and slow down water flow during high peaks. They also help create space for water, which prevents over-flooding and increases availability during dry periods. Vegetation further enhances this effect while also reducing erosion along banks.
With controlled subsurface drainage, it is possible to regulate the groundwater level in a field using special regulating wells. When the need for drainage is small, the water level can be kept higher. This improves plants’ access to water, as well as their ability to absorb nutrients. This means that less water flows out of the ground and, thus, the leakage of nitrogen transported by water is reduced.
Two-stage ditches have been modified through the addition of floodplain benches. They act like natural floodplain zones and slow down water flow at high peaks by allowing the water to spread out. The channel becomes more stable, and there is less erosion. Natural stream beds are meandering, and have natural areas that contain flooding, important to biodiversity.