A new booklet published by University of Illinois Extension describes 10 nitrogen loss-reduction strategies to help farmers choose the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions for their specific circumstances.
An ongoing study is finding about one-third of farms sampled across Ohio are meeting recommended levels of nutrient runoff and over half are close – meaning most farms are within reach of meeting targets designed to protect Lake Erie from algal blooms. The News Herald reports. | READ MORE
Advanced Drainage Systems Inc. (ADS) hosted community leaders, elected officials and prospective employees this week at the site of its new manufacturing facility, now under construction in Harrisonville, MO.
Timewell Drainage Products has acquired Midwest Plastic Products from Spell Capital.
Robert J. (Bob) Demaray, former owner of Demaray Farm Drainage in Dorchester, ON, passed away peacefully on Sept. 25 in his 88th year. Bob was a past-president and honorary life member of the Land Improvement Contractors of Ontario. A celebration of Bob's life will be held Oct. 1 at the Demaray Shop from 1 to 4 p.m. 
Increased use of tile drainage in Manitoba, as well as other regions, has made reducing nutrient run-off a priority in traditional agricultural systems. The Manitoba Co-operator reports. | READ MORE
Cash crops are sprouting in northwestern Ontario, thanks to a provincial grant program that subsidizes installations of modern agricultural drainage systems. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
In its water quality lawsuit, Des Moines Water Works is fighting a longstanding precedent protecting drainage districts from lawsuits. A ruling in favor of the central Iowa utility could significantly alter a century of legal precedent. | READ MORE
The pieces are all falling into place for the Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association (MFGA) Aquanty modelling project for the Assiniboine River Basin.
Proponents looking at a new funding source for Iowa water quality solutions could have a new powerful ally: the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. | READ MORE
Working over two years to study four coastal sites, a team of biologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, University of South Carolina, and College of Charleston found the level of development surrounding a waterway significantly impacted its microbial community – and its vulnerability to algal blooms. | READ MORE
Researchers at the University of South Dakota (USD) report a multi-year project north of Sioux Falls, SD, appears to show a reduction in plant and animal diversity in wetlands that collect water runoff from agricultural land.
Digging ditches is in Bart Maxwell’s blood, going back four generations to 1910 when his great-grandfather, Alexander Maxwell, began laying clay field tile and building small bridges around Montgomery County in Indiana with his brother, Silas.
Under overcast September skies, David Wideman of Wideman’s Farm Drainage marked the end of an era, laying what he believes to be the last clay drainage tile to be installed in Canada.
It was an eventful summer for the folks at Bower Tiling Service Inc. Drainage Contractor first introduced readers to the company three years ago, when we profiled the then 112-year-old business in our Spring 2012 issue. 
Water: the single most important substance in the world. Water: the most available substance in the world. On the surface of those statements it would seem that all is well; we all know there is a “but” lurking within them.  
Traditionally windmills are used to extract water for livestock or irrigation. Not on the Coon Farm.
Take a trip back in time with Luft and Son Farm Drainage, laying field tile in Roosevelt Township, Iowa, circa 1973.
When Fostoria, Ohio, farmer Lanny Boes purchased his first ditch machine 40 years ago, he had no idea it would lead to him starting a drainage contracting company.
Since the mid-1970s, the province of Ontario has had a plow testing and certification program and is currently updating the program. With the significant increase in plow-installed subsurface drainage over the last several years in both the U.S. and Canada, it seems that it is time that a drainage plow testing and certification program be considered for development in the United States. Corrugated plastic (HDPE) subsurface drain tubing installed with plow-type equipment has increased dramatically since the early 1970s, in both Canada and the United States. All of the early drainage plows were equipped with laser-based automatic depth and grade-control systems. Older systems have now been upgraded on many plows, and some trenchers, with the modern satellite-based 3-D GPS depth and grade-control system.
I had the great fortune to study journalism with some of the best in the business. Although I walked away from j-school with a bunch of practical skills, I often think that the bite-sized pieces of fortune cookie wisdom my professors passed along were the most valuable lessons I learned during my studies. Some of my favorites – “There’s a reason you have two ears but only one mouth” and “The only stupid question is the one you never ask” – by no means apply exclusively to journalism. They have, however, had tremendous influence in how I view my role as your new editor of Drainage Contractor.
“From snow buckets to manure buckets, we can fix it. Bring it in or we can come to you. We've made everything from hoof trimmer cow cages to handicap elevators in homes. Bring your own design, or let us design and build.”
The last time I wrote a column for Drainage Contractor, I thought the weather was so unusual and such a talking point that I could not write about anything else. Yet again, this thought occurs to me: we have had record rainfall levels here in the U.K., and I have read about the chilling weather inflicted on those in North America. However, as this would soon become the dullest part of the magazine if I just gave a weather report, I will resist the temptation. Regardless of what is causing the changes, I doubt many in Britain would disagree that something strange is going on. Every couple of months the headlines report weather records being broken or set. This might be a blip or a pattern, but the weather is headline news like never before, and many believe climate change is the cause. I believe that drainage contractors should greet it as an opportunity.
Across Canada, there are considerable challenges in managing our surface water quality. One factor that can greatly affect this is agricultural nutrient runoff, and among those areas where this is a major concern are Lake Erie and Lake Simcoe, in Ontario. Nutrient runoff is also an increasing concern in areas of intensive agriculture across Prince Edward Island, a province in which 100 per cent of drinking water comes from groundwater wells.
The drainage system along the primary runway at Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, IL, was originally clay pipe and perforated corrugated metal pipe. After 50 years, much of the pipe was either leaking severely or had deteriorated to the critical point where replacement was required. Plans called for nearly six miles of large-diameter pipe to be installed, but it had to be done within a strict timeframe, because the runway could be shut down for only a specific time period.
The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition (ADMC), Agricultural Drainage Management Systems Task Force and Dan Jaynes with the National Laboratory for Agriculture & The Environment collaborated to demonstrate and evaluate saturated buffers at field scale to reduce nitrates and phosphorus from subsurface field drainage systems.
What do you get when you put a Michigan dairy farmer and a conservationist in a car for several hours? If the dairy farmer is Blaine Baker, co-owner of Bakerlads Farm in Clayton, and the conservationist is Thomas Van Wagner, technical co-ordinator for the Lenawee Conservation District Center for Excellence Program, you get the initial designs of a livestock reservoir wetland sub-irrigation system.
The impact of gas pipeline construction on agricultural drain tile has become a hot topic in the midwestern United States.
Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have developed an innovative closed-loop water management recycling system that can offer farmers many benefits, including improved crop yields – but it may very well be another business opportunity for drainage contractors as well.
It’s a short jump to change many drainage systems into drainage subirrigation systems, says Mark Nussbaum, an area engineer at the United States Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). Add a bioreactor intended to eliminate water pollution and it equals good news for farmers and the environment.
Nitrate loss through tile drainage systems has been a water quality concern in the Midwest for many years. Reducing concentration from current values to a maximum level of 10 mg N L-1 has been adopted as a goal in many nutrient reduction plans.
Few soils will drain fast enough to allow golf to be played in comfort after a period of prolonged rain, but effective drainage techniques can make a huge difference to the speed at which water will drain away. Here are seven steps for successful fairway drainage that will keep costs down.
The importance of good water management is sometimes lost in the busy world of farming. As an Australian Nuffield Scholar, travelling to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the United States and Canada to gain knowledge on ways to reduce waterlogging, I soon realized the importance of looking at multiple ways to combat this issue.
In 2005, Murray and Wilma Scott approached the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority with a common drainage issue. With hard work, they resolved the issue for good and were awarded the Ontario Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence for their efforts.
Researchers are in agreement; too much phosphorus is finding its way into field tile. But rather than demand a moratorium on tile drainage installation, many are suggesting more practical drainage solutions for the agricultural industry.The problematic algal blooms that are plaguing Lake Erie are being fed by high concentrations of phosphorus, particularly between March and June each year. Although there are many contributing factors to the growing problem, the timing suggests agricultural sources may be significant. After heavy rains in the spring of 2011 spawned the largest algal bloom in Lake Erie’s history, the International Joint Commission, which was created by the Boundary Waters Treaty to prevent and resolve disputes between Canada and the United States, formed the Lake Erie Ecosystem Priority (LEEP). In a report released last year, the organization identified that non-point sources (which include agricultural operations) truly are contributing more than 50 per cent of incoming phosphorus loads. Douglas Smith, a soil scientist working with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS) in Temple, Texas, has a dominant interest in phosphorus transport. Between 2004 and 2013, he was involved in research that aimed to clarify the impact of conservation farming practices on the Lake Erie basin, and found several undesirable effects on the amount of phosphorus entering the watershed. No-till, for example, doubled soluble phosphorus loading compared to rotational tillage (tilling only before planting corn). But in the same study, Smith found it also decreased total phosphorus loading by 69 per cent compared to rotational tillage. Similarly, grassed waterways increased soluble phosphorus loads, but not total phosphorus. Only the recommended rotational practice of planting corn, then soybeans, wheat, and oats reduced both soluble and total phosphorus loads (by 85 per cent and 83 per cent, respectively) compared to the standard corn–soybean rotation. Now researchers are concluding even the best farming practices can’t be solely depended upon to protect the lake and Smith is offering a piece of advice to drainage contractors.“Be aware that drainage may have a target on its back,” he warns. Both the International Joint Commission and the Ohio Phosphorus Task Force set phosphorus loading reduction targets of 39 per cent and 37 per cent respectively in 2013. In looking for ways to make those targets a reality, Smith says he personally has already been involved in multiple studies focused on tile drainage discharge. What he was surprised to discover in research fields was that as much as 49 per cent of soluble phosphorus and 48 per cent of total phosphorus losses occurred through tile discharge.“The water was hitting the tile much quicker than what I was expecting,” he says. “Our peak discharge in surface runoff happened at almost the exact same time as the peak discharge in the tile flow, so there’s a lot more surface connection through macropores, root channels, worm holes, and soil cracking in the region than what I had realized.”Smith says these preferential flow paths have proven to be more pronounced in certain soil types. Kevin King, an agricultural research engineer also with the USDA ARS, but located in Columbus, Ohio, says most of the soils in Ohio are poorly drained and couldn’t be farmed without tile. They also tend to be soil types that are prone to developing preferential flow paths. “We did a review article for the Journal of Environmental Quality and the fine textured clay soils will have more losses than your sandy soils due to preferential flow paths, even though phosphorus will bind to those clay particles,” King says. The fact that clay binds phosphorus only further complicates the problem as farmers increase fertilizer rates accordingly. King notes that if farmers in Ohio were applying phosphorus fertilizers through subsurface placement, this may not be as much of a problem, but the most common practice still seems to be broadcast application. “If we have preferential flow paths that develop in fine texture soils, then any water that migrates into those is carrying that rich phosphorus off the surface, into the tile.”North of Lake Erie, subsurface application of phosphorus seems to be more common. Merrin Macrae, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ont., together with a team of surface-water chemistry students and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) recently concluded a study of field surface runoff and tile systems effluent from Ontario cropland. Between May 2012 and April 2013, this research team demonstrated that although tile sources contributed 78 per cent of total runoff at one research site, surface runoff contained 81 per cent of the soluble phosphorus lost and an equal amount of total phosphorus. Their other site produced similar results. But in the first year of data at a new high clay site, tile drainage played more of a role relative to surface runoff. Macrae says that although there’s still a lot to learn, especially about the role of soil type, their research produces some clear lessons.“Overland flow has much higher concentrations of phosphorus than our tile drainage effluent,” Macrae says. The challenge, as far as she’s concerned, is keeping that surface water from running directly into tile systems. “I’m not saying tiles are not a phosphorus source, but they seem to move phosphorus at a lower rate partly because of the soil types at our sites and how they are managed.”For example, Macrae says it is clear a surface inlet that takes field runoff right into the tile drainage system is disastrous from a phosphorus standpoint. That’s why she’s working with OMAFRA’s Kevin McKague to promote the use and proper construction of surface water treatments such as water and sediment control basins (WASCoB). Macrae says she doesn’t think people outside of the research community have any idea just how much beneficial collaboration is currently in progress, on both sides of the border.“The research that’s gone on for the last four or five years has very much been a collaboration between governments, farmers and researchers working together to get the right answers,” she says. King agrees that a lot of good collaboration has gone into addressing the issue so far, but he believes meeting phosphorus reduction targets is going to require the help of even more contributors. “How we get from science to implementation is where drainage contractors, ag retailers and the governments fit,” he says. “It’s all of our responsibilities to not only learn the science, but then to relate that to the producers to get that implemented.”King believes drainage contractors are well equipped to offer advice to farmers when installing tile systems, taking soil type and farming practices into consideration. Farmers that broadcast fertilizer and practice no-till on a high clay content field need to hear about the effects of artificially adjusting the outlet elevation of their tile. “If we raise that outlet elevation to 16 or 18 inches from the surface during the winter months, we have the potential to reduce the amount of water leaving the site anywhere from eight to 45 per cent,” he explains. During winter months, when phosphorus losses start to rise, King says drainage control can reduce the amount that’s leaving the site anywhere from 40 to 65 per cent.King also recommends blind inlets, sometimes also called French drains, in a no-till system. Smith says they’re absolutely perfect for closed depressions and pothole sites. “Blind inlets are basically an alternative practice to tile risers,” Smith said. “We put them in at the lowest point of potholes and we got pretty good reductions for phosphorus, in the neighbourhood of 40 to 80 per cent phosphorus reduction depending on the year.” Smith says that in the comparative study conducted over six years, he found that sediment and nutrient loads were particularly improved during extreme weather conditions such as the wet spring of 2010. The study was so conclusive, it led to the development of a Natural Resource Conservation Service Standard for installing a blind inlet in Indiana. King says they’re currently looking into improving this system even further by back-filling the leach field with steel slag rather than pea gravel, which would offer greater phosphorus binding properties, but the effectiveness of these strategies is yet to be determined. King says there is still a vast amount of research to be done.“Right now we’re putting band aids on a severed arm, just trying to stop the bleeding,” he says. “We’re going to have to stack practices and we have to understand that what works on one operation may not work on another.”Smith agrees, noting that even now there are a number of research projects that could prove very effective. He also agrees one size certainly won’t fit all and there will potentially be lots of new practices for drainage contractors to get involved in developing.
The beautiful established scenery of an old golf course can rarely be beaten, but history can come at a price when standing water threatens course closure. One thing we can all be fairly sure of is that weather patterns are changing and, global warming aside, that appears to be something that is here to stay.
Sept. 12, 2016 - For the first time ever, leading food and agriculture supply chain companies and conservation organizations have formed an “end-to-end” partnership to support farmers in the improvement of soil health and water quality. The collective, announced recently at the launch of the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (the Collaborative) — a broad-based effort to support, enhance, and accelerate the use of environmentally preferable agricultural practices already underway in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. As part of this effort, the Collaborative has committed to raising $4 million over five years to help accelerate the Soil Health Partnership, a farmer-led initiative of the National Corn Growers Association. With 65 farm sites already a part of the effort, the Soil Health Partnership’s goal is to enroll 100 farms for field-scale testing and measuring management practices that improve soil health. Such practices include growing cover crops, implementing conservation tillage like no-till or strip-till, and using adaptive, innovative, and science-based nutrient management techniques. The Soil Health Partnership’s research is quantifying the economic benefits of these practices, equipping farmers and agronomists with information on how healthy soil benefits both their bottom line and our natural resources. The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative’s founding members include Cargill, Environmental Defense Fund, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Monsanto, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Walmart, and World Wildlife Fund. “As an agricultural and food company, Cargill sees the MRCC as a way to support and accelerate the adoption of existing conservation programs set up by farmers and work with customers and organizations that share sustainability goals with the ag community,” says David MacLennan, chairman and CEO of Cargill. “This collaboration between environmental organizations and some of the world’s largest agriculture-based companies should lead to significantly ramped-up water conservation in the Midwest,” says Mark R. Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “TNC is eager to use our science and expertise to accelerate solutions that match the scale of the challenges we face in that region, such as improving water quality across the Midwest and addressing the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.” The Collaborative plans to initially focus on optimizing soil health practices outcomes, reducing nutrient losses — chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus — into the rivers and streams of the Mississippi River Basin, maximizing water conservation to reduce pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Most importantly, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative is committed to working with others — farmer organizations, environmental groups, and state and local watershed partnerships — to achieve the goals outlined in the Gulf Hypoxia Taskforce action plan and respective state nutrient and water loss reduction plans. Those common goals include: By 2025, 75 percent of row crop acres in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska are engaged in the sustainability measures that will result in optimizing field to market Fieldprint analyses and soil health practices outcomes. By 2025, reduce nitrogen loading from Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska by 20 percent as a milestone to meet agreed upon Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force goal of 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus loading. By 2025, 50 percent of all irrigation units used in Nebraska will maximize water conservation to reduce pressure on the Ogallala Aquifer. By 2035, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska have met the 45 percent nutrient loss reduction goal, and partnerships and goals are established to expand the Collaborative across the Upper Mississippi River Basin. The Collaborative will employ four strategies to improve positive environmental and social outcomes in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. These strategies are: Building the business case: build data and engage farmers via the Soil Health Partnership; Sustainable Agriculture Resource Center: provide training and technical support for ag retailers and crop advisors to help scale conservation practices such as fertilizer optimization and cover crop adoption; Policy engagement: plan for and understand drivers and incentives for in-field, edge-of-field, and landscape conservation practices; and, Communications: catalyze change in the region and help consumers understand these efforts by highlighting the innovation of farmers making measurable progress. The Midwest Row Crop Collaborative has partnered with the Keystone Policy Center to facilitate its work.
Agriculture is well known for multi-generational farm operations, with often two generations – and sometimes three – working together.
The year 2015 was the 50th anniversary for the beginning of the corrugated-wall high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic drainage pipe manufacturing industry in the United States. Working for the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Soil and Water Conservation Research Division at Ohio State University, my former colleague Norman R. Fausey and I conducted research to develop new subsurface drainage materials and methods of installation that could potentially be installed faster and at a lower cost than clay and concrete drain tile.
There continues to be a growing interest in tile drainage in Manitoba, and the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) is working to help determine beneficial management practices for the application of manure on tile-drained lands.
The term “millennials” is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. The precise delineation varies from one source to another, however, for purposes of this article we will place millennials as born between 1980 and 2000.
It was a busy and productive first year for the Transforming Drainage research study, according to project manager Ben Reinhart.
Two factors impact demand for drainage more than anything else here in the U.K.: the amount of rainfall and the price of wheat. The phone tends to ring more often after a month or two of rain or steady price increases. I have expressed my puzzlement that short-term events can affect the purchase of such a long-term investment before, but such is life. Rain and commodity prices are out of my control – if I had a method of controlling either, I would not be wading in the mud as a drainage contractor!
For us it is normally a struggle to find good people, and from my conversations with contractors around the world, I think most people in our industry would agree. Often overlooked, but just as important, is the fact that it’s also difficult to hold on to the good employees we already have. Let’s be honest: the work we have to offer involves sweat, mud, more sweat, and more mud. It’s freezing in the winter and hot in the summer and it’s almost guaranteed that at some point you will get sunburnt. It’s not badly paid work, but it’s not jaw-droppingly good either. There are perks and working in the beauty of the gentle, fertile, rolling hills of Warwickshire should not be understated, but it remains, I suspect, an average job.  
The new Clean Water Rule (often called the “waters of the United States” or “WOTUS” rule) went into effect on Aug. 28. Well, partially that is. The much-publicized rule that establishes the formal definition of waters subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act went into effect in 37 states on Aug. 28. Landowners in the other 13 states — which include North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Wyoming — are still subject to the old definition of jurisdictional waters.
A University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center study found an estimated 284,000 distracted drivers are involved in serious vehicle accidents every year. One of the contributing factors is cell phone use.
Water quality has been on the minds of lawmakers lately, as governments on both sides of the 49th parallel enact legislation to protect and improve water quality within their respective jurisdictions. If you subscribe to our e-newsletter, you’ve probably seen headlines such as “Minnesota’s water protection methods about to change” and “New rules for drainage projects in Saskatchewan.” (If you aren’t receiving our e-newsletter, you can sign up online.)  
Like many, I’m keenly awaiting the arrival of spring. This winter has been neither particularly snowy nor sodden for us, just a standard British winter, which makes draining land difficult. In the British Isles our weather is mild. We do not suffer from periods of extreme cold or heat and, on the whole, intense weather is something we experience only on the news. What we do have is rain and, in most places, heavy clay soils. These conditions are not good when combined with heavy drainage machines and over wintering crops. Our workload dwindles over the winter and each year we scratch around trying to find work that we can do. To begin with, this reduced pace makes a welcome change from the frantic pressures of the post-harvest rush, but by the time February arrives it is a drag on morale –and on the bank account. While I’m quite busy sending out estimates and drumming up work for next week, the guys are doing bits and pieces and painting our kit, none of which turns a profit. The only answer I can find, (and please correct me if you can) is to be flexible and try to say “Yes” to any opportunity that comes your way. This can lead us to places we have not been to before. That’s what happened to us this winter.
The Hydroluis drainage pipe system, manufactured in Istanbul, Turkey, is the first anti-root drainage pipe. It is anti-bacterial with sensitive filtration. The pipe saves underground water in drought seasons, and works only when the water table rises above specified levels. The system eliminates the requirement for annual maintenance or internal cleaning, according to a company press release. The pipe shows long-term operating performance and is usable in shallow impermeable grounds. For more information, visit www.hydroluis.com. 
Bron has introduced the Double Link 850 (DL850) plow. 
June 3, 2015 – Advanced Drainage Systems, Inc. (ADS) has released a new online program for designing and estimating the cost of a storm water system constructed with its StormTech Chambers.
May 15, 2015 – The Bron TR450 wheel trencher is designed with the power and strength to easily dig in even the toughest rocky soil types.
May 15, 2015 – With a highly versatile design and line speeds of up to 115 feet per minute, the Corma HSC Series 2 perforator can be configured for on-line perforation of a variety of corrugated pipes.
May 15, 2015 – The Agri Drain Warthog floating pump is a rugged, highly efficient pump assembled in the United States.
May 15, 2015 – Major upgrades are taking Wolfe wheel trenchers up a notch with increased efficiency, safety and performance.
May 15, 2015 – Advanced Drainage Systems’ new fine slot N-12 is designed with fine slots in the valleys of the pipe.
May 15, 2015 – Tesmec USA’s 775 DT trencher is available in two different versions: chainsaw and bucket wheel.
May 15, 2015 – With more marginal soils being drained in recent years, the demand for easy to apply filtration fabrics with enhanced performance characteristics has grown.
May 15, 2015 – With thousands of miles of energy pipelines proposed or under construction in the Corn Belt, having a long-term, reliable way to repair tile damaged during pipeline construction is critical.
May 15, 2015 – Advanced Drainage Systems (ADS) has introduced the HP agriculture lift station, which manages water flow rate, field water table level and power consumption.

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